Written By Christine Gleim - Christine is a recent college graduate trying to find her place in the world. First and foremost she is a scientist, but she loves to relax and create through writing. She can be found with her nose in a mystery or science fiction novel, obsessing over a show on Netflix, or out on a long walk.
There is No Such Thing as “Just” Words
“One must be careful of books and what is inside them, for words have the power to change us.” ~ Cassandra Clare, Clockwork Angel
Lately I have been thinking a lot about the power of words, spoken or found in books. I grew up being told that words are powerful things which is why you must think before you speak and be careful what you read and listen to. They will influence you. While I never doubted that it was true, it was not until recently that realized how much words have influenced the person I have become. While I have been deeply impacted by words spoken to me by friends and family, I think I have been even more greatly influenced by the words I found in books.
I just finished rereading the science fiction novel Logan’s Run for what was probably the fifth time. I first read this book when I was about fourteen and I read it three times that year. It is a fast paced novel filled with action, character development, and intellectual struggles. As I read it again for the first time in several years, I was caught up once again in the novel’s vivid imagery and description. I still picture the scenes the same way the words painted them for me the first time I read it. I realized that my writing was influenced by those same beautifully written descriptions. My use of adjectives in writing and the way I combine them is rooted in the style used by the authors of Logan’s Run.
Another book that has influenced me probably more than any other is The Diary of Anne Frank. I first read it when I was eleven years old. It resonated with me and I read every available edition of it in the year following. I have reread it many times since then. I read it again just last summer. If I had not read Anne Frank I would not write like I do today. Her diary inspired me to keep a journal of my own. An assignment I had been given in school was to write a daily journal entry. The first year or so that I did it my entries were the bare minimum, a catalog of what I had done that day. After Anne Frank my journal became more than just a daily chronology of events, I began sharing my thoughts, feelings, wishes, and dreams. Because of that book, I now have a trunk full of twelve years’ worth of diaries and am a much better writer.
Last spring I read John Green’s Paper Towns and instantly fell in love. In fact, it replaced Anne Frank as my favorite book. I connected with the main character on an intimate level. It was almost as if the author had based Quentin on me. Green had put into words feelings and experiences that I always struggled to express. It has been over a year since I read it but it is always just beneath the surface of my mind. In the past year, I discovered that at times I even identify more with Margo’s character, who I had felt very little in common with before. This book taught me much about myself and how to truly see other people. It taught me to embrace life and the people in it. It taught me to grow and that change is a necessary part of life. It has probably influenced the way I write, I just have not noticed it yet.
A few months ago I read The Great Gatsby for the first time. It pulled me in and I read all 182 pages in one sitting. It was beautifully depressing. Having just graduated from college, I could relate deeply to both Nick Carraway and Gatsby. I fell in love with the characters and the imagery that made you feel like you were part of the story. The book taught me that there is beauty in sadness and that sometimes you need to let go of things or they may destroy you. I have begun to try to reflect similar ideas in my writing.
Words can never be “just words”. Words provide one with the power to reach people in a way that nothing else can. Words can draw people together or push them apart. Words can hurt or heal. Words can deeply impact those who read them. This realization has made me even more mindful of what I write because my words can touch others. When I write I hope my words resonate with others so they know they are not alone in those thoughts and feelings. When I write I hope others can find hope and inspiration in my words. There is power in words.