Lyric Fire: Word Warrior or Apathetic Author?

My love for the written word and books began at a very early age. My mother would read to me at bedtime so my dreams would be filled with colorful stories that I would then try to replicate on the school bus the next day.

I remember vividly trying to imitate my mom and share the same stories with my classmates that she had read to me. I’m not sure how it started, but it became a daily routine and I would relish the hush that came over the bus. I noticed the driver would be smiling, probably happy that she got a little peace and quiet while the kids were occupied with my story-telling.

My mom had a look of pride when the bus driver told her of my activities. I’m sure she took credit for my passion as she had definitely instilled it in me. Not only was I treated to words at bedtime, but I was surrounded by books at home. I had encyclopedia sets and Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew Mysteries and my room was awash in the colors of Childcraft books in just about every subject.

I also was taught to have respect for books as physical property. No writing on the pages (I always cringed when I saw markings and notes in college books), of any of my books was tolerated! I had to shelve them properly and I was not to eat or drink anything while I was reading. I had bookmarks of all types because folded pages were also a no-no! I adhered to these guidelines without protest too!

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As I developed a deeper love for what was between the pages, I grew to respect the power of words. Whenever I see blatant disrespect for the written word it pains me. This disrespect can come from writers who become lazy in their construction of stories by using bad grammar and by not editing their work properly. When a reader buys a book they want to be able to lose themselves in the work and not have to stop and stumble over passages that don’t make sense. Having witnessed a recent offense of this, it propelled me to write this short directive for writers:

“Writers: Do not write weakly! Pen with passion! Have respect for the product you’re peddling! Sloppy scribes send bad vibes! Prepare your passages with great care. Feed readers mind fuel instead of brain drain. Which are you? A Word Warrior or an Apathetic Author?” 

I shared this on some social sites and was pleased to see that I was not alone in my way of thinking. One of my favorite authors, Lolita Files, (pictured below) author of sex.lies.murder.fame.: A NovelChild of God and other tasty titles, is a super hero of sorts when it comes to championing the written word and had this to add to my initial statement:

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“Writing is not a game. It’s not a “hustle.” It’s a craft to be studied and practiced and practiced and studied, then studied and practiced, and practiced some more. You may hustle in the process of getting people to know about your words, but whatever you do, no matter your genre, don’t hustle the words just to cop a quick dollar. Poor spelling, bad grammar, a weak understanding of the language, no sense of character development, plot, or pacing. Others will see the flaws. The ones who don’t might eat up what you’re peddling, but like any bad dose, they’ll ultimately get sick on the product. A book does not equal a dime bag of crack/meth/rock/weed, though plenty out there treat them that way.

Selah.”

Lolita sure has a way with words doesn’t she? She gives us a lot to reflect on indeed. To those who may not be familiar with the word selah, it is used quite frequently in the Hebrew Bible and means to weigh, measure or to reflect. Some also interpret it to mean simply, “stop and listen.”

I could go on and on about why it’s important to treat words with reverence, but I think we’ve established that here. I would challege you as readers to demand excellence from the authors you support and to give them feedback on their work (politely and respectfully) when you notice something that takes away from their writing. Also in the same vein, please let them know when their work is well written and touches you deeply. All writers want to know when they have connected with their readers as it will inspire them to work even harder to maintain their audiences and keep them happy.

As writers, authors, poets and bloggers we must always hold ourselves accountable for the work we put out into the world and make sure it’s fully cooked before serving it to the masses. Depending on the chef, books can be nutritious and delicious and an excellent source of sustenance, or filled with only sugar and fat giving the reader instant gratificaton, but no long term value.

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© 2012 – 2014, TamekaMullins. All rights reserved.

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.

Comments (18 Responses)

  1. Leah says:

    I love it Tameka, my fearless word warrior!!! You’re amazing my dear… simply amazing;)

  2. I love what you have written here, Tameka! When I was young, I was taught, just as you were, to respect books as if they were my best friends. And, oh, how I loved to read! Voraciously!
    I truly believe my love of reading led to my ability and desire to write.
    And, yes, especially in the blogging world, I see many grammatical and spelling errors in a mad dash just to get out a post. We need to value the quality of our own work. If we fail to do so, it sends a message to the readers that we are careless, sloppy, and, sadly, do not respect our own work.
    Great advice beautifully written!
    Blessings to you!

  3. Hey Leah! You’re pretty amazing too! Thank you!

  4. Martha, a book is one of the best friends you could ever have! You can drag them anywhere and they won’t complain! They will then turn around and take you on amazing exotic trips! Love my books! Thanks for stopping by!

  5. Jerly says:

    Well, one thing I do take back is to be more into reading stories to my kids! Thanks:)

  6. Andy says:

    Hello Tameka.
    As I was reading this, I found myself smiling & nodding in agreement. Sadly, far too many writers nowadays are about quantity rather than quality.
    You raise some very valid points here.
    Nice write-up.
    Thanks for sharing.
    http://mypoetcharm.blogspot.com/2012/01/like-harlot.html

  7. Mommy reading time is the best Jerly! Enjoy!

  8. So true, dear Andy. So true. Thanks as always!

  9. melissa says:

    What makes you an effective writer Tameka is your words have weight. You put your heart, soul and mind in everything you do ~ and you connect with other people’s souls. The high regard you have for writing, story telling, reading ~ books and authors are all evident in this post.
    I truly admire you ~ nel profondo del mio cuore.
    You are a paragon to writers 🙂

  10. Melissa, this is one of the most beautiful things anyone has ever said about me! Thanks so much dearie! I will continue working to live up to these accolades! Have a blessed week ahead!

  11. Dawn says:

    I love coming here, because I always learn something fascinating. I didn’t know the meaning of the word “Selah”, and now I do – it’s beautiful! And oh my, what similar childhoods we share. I was reading and writing by the age of three, and since then have been absolutely consumed with both. Words give me endless enjoyment, they challenge me daily and they give me entertainment and solace. The list is endless. I could live without books, reading and writing if I had to, but it would be a very dull, sad, colorless life.
    Much love, chickadee!
    – Dawn

  12. That’s funny Dawn, because I feel the same way about your blog. I always learn something new about self reflection, healing and life when I visit Healing Morning:
    http://healingmorning.blogspot.com/2012/01/my-purpose-is.html
    Cheers lady and have a great day!

  13. That was so nice Tameka…Listening to bedtime stories I still remember. I am in my college, but even today I sometimes insist my mom to narrate me a story. 😀

  14. kriti says:

    You know Tameka your paragraph about “book etiquette” if you will is everything that went on in my family when I was growing and that’s exactly what I am trying to instill in my 2 year old – the result remains to be seen. In the meantime – here is something for you – we Hindus have a God of Education who is represented in books. Her name is Saraswati. So in our culture if by mistake we drop a book, or if our feet touches a book we pick it up and touch it to our head to ask for forgiveness… So you can imagine!

  15. Kriti thanks for letting me know about your custom! It’s something that I know my mother would have put into practice had she known about it. Let’s continue sharing in this place! Love it!

  16. dear Tameka,
    i believe in quality rather than quantity. so a word warrior is always appreciated. even my postings need a break. playing with words and creating anything with it is an art. representing, is ME. so why not dress up perfect?
    i respect your views about keeping safe our books. it is a life long treasure, our guide, our builder, our best friend who always gives back more and more. so it is our responsibility to take care of them.
    loved reading the post. i agree with you at every point:)

  17. “It is a life long treasure, our guide, our builder, our best friend who always gives back more and more. so it is our responsibility to take care of them.” SO TRUE! Thanks as always for your thoughts Sancheeta!

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