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!
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 Novel, Child 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:
“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.
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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