Monday, April 4, 2011

A Few Kind Words

Don't ever underestimate the power of an encouraging word.

Or the harm of a rude one.

Here's a little story: When I was in high school (back in the dark ages when we had to wear skirts to school - seriously) I fancied myself becoming a writer.

I was smart, creative, sensitive, and I'd ALWAYS wanted to be a writer. When a writing club formed at school and asked for submissions for a school literary rag, well of course I had something, because I wrote songs and poetry constantly. So - for my very first submission anywhere - I chose a poem about something dear to my heart - that feeling of empowerment while riding my horse.

I don't remember all the words now - and God how I wish I'd kept it. It was really good, I think - something about my horse's broad back, and burying my face in his mane as I float to a place of my own. Yeah, that was the name of the poem - A Place of My Own.

But oh - the agony, the defeat, the feeling of failure when my first. rejection. ever. came back (from a girl editor, a junior I think, who I'm sure had never even ridden a horse!) with a thick, red remark scribbled in the margin of the poem - "OVERBLOWN."

What?? What the heck did that mean?

But obviously, to a bright, sensitive, creative teenager, it meant that I could. not. write. And I didn't - for many, many years.

Fast forward many decades. I dropped out of college at twenty (ah, first love) started several businesses, decided at age 48 to finish college, which I did at age 52. And God, did I have to write to do that. Essays, essays, and more essays. Overblown, oververbaged, overworded, over anything, just words, words and more words to get it turned in and the assignment finished.

And somewhere in there, on one of my senior theses, a college professor scribbled another note in the margin. You know what it said?

"You are a good

Me. Me? A Good Writer?

But I took those five little words to heart, and they gave me courage, and confidence, and when I finished college and started in on my new career as a writer for young people, they sat there in the back of my brain like a little mantra -

You are a good writer. You are a good writer. You are a good writer.

And you know what - I am.

So in your daily interactions with people - written or verbal or any other kind of communication -

Never Underestimate the Power of an Encouraging Word.

How about you guys? Ever have anyone make a difference in your life (good or bad) with the power of a few words?


Judi said...

Yes! You are a good writer

Linda Benson said...

Thank you, Judi! Every writer I know tends to lack confidence occasionally, and it sure helps to hear a little praise from time to time ;-)And that goes for every endeavor in life.

Amy Lukavics said...

My husband for sure. If I start wigging out and convincing myself that it's never gonna happen for me, he somehow convinces me that it will. He's always believed in me from the beginning and I pretty much wouldn't have gotten anywhere if it weren't for his support.

And WTF does "overblown" mean?


Linda Benson said...

Amy - thank goodness for supportive spouses, huh? Yay!!

And Yes, Overblown. That was my reaction too. WT?? But it's a great word now that I think of it, and I will attempt to use it in future manuscripts, with a meaning still to be conjured up. ;)

Cynthia Chapman Willis said...

It's so true that words have incredible power. I love what you wrote here, Linda. What a great message. Thank you!

Research Paper said...

Excellent piece of writing..Thanks for sharing..