Tuesday, December 13, 2005


We can jot put them on paper, let them roll off our tongue, and scream them from microphones, soapboxes, and rooftops. But the words we publish, immortalize us.

"The power of life and death is in the tongue." It's an old scripture I've been handed over and over for years. It's yields power in the hands of a skilled orator. Great speakers know this. Ministers, politicians, salesmen, and teachers all know their words will follow them for decades. Either hailing them as great men and women of the twenty-first century or haunting them, ruining their careers and subsequently marking them as fools.

Writers know this, also. Much more so.

I've been told the one person in your family to be afraid of is not the gossipping grandma, the bully brother-in-law, or the bitchy old aunt ... it's the writer. We write about the people we know. We can make you look good or worse than you really are, taking bits and pieces of the familiar and weaving fictional stories into timeless pieces of literature for all the world to read until the end of time.

Unless written down, a speaker's words will eventually fade into memory and then altogether be forgotten, but a writer's words ... last forever.

Will this blog last forever? Who knows. As long as the Internet exists, I suppose. But, the manuscripts made into books, those indelible pages of ink on paper found in libraries, private collections, and flea markets five for a dollar ... live on through eternity. E books can't compete with that. Sorry.

I remember finding a copy of Uncle Tom's Cabin in the attic of an old house I rented once. An old man had lived there for years as a widower. When he died, his children sold his home and contents and my landlord told me if I cleaned the place up, he'd knock some money off the first month's rent. But what I discovered, was a goldmine.

The old man's long ago deceased wife worked as a librarian in the 1920s. She was obviously a book lover from that time period having collected a ton of books and storing them in boxes in the attic. The diamond of the collection were a few first editions. One being an Uncle Tom's Cabin ... yes, that's right.

Immortal words, stored for over fifty years in ancient boxes in an old man's attic. I blew off the dust and held this precious book in my hands like I'd found the Hope Diamond. Many of the books were from the 19th and early 20th century. Some were just old school books, one was a picture book-- a souvenir of Niagara Falls from 1900, some books were written in German, there were books of Shakespeare, and a book of poems by Longfellow. A copy of Moods, by Louisa May Alcott, hid itself on the bottom of the last box opened.

I've loved words all my life, and as I sat there in the midst of that smelly musty attic with the lone light bulb hanging down from the ceiling, I heard the ghosts of those long ago writers breathe a sigh of relief ... somebody found their words again. Somebody who'd read them, appreciate them, and pass them on to the next generation.

Words ... I like to imagine my words being spoken by readers in 2080 ... don't you? Yes? Then get busy, writers ... we've got work to do.

Blessings to you and yours.

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