Stop Underselling Yourself as a Writer. Words Are Magic (With Example)
I have been enjoying the work of fellow Medium writers for the past 6 months now.
While I really enjoy the wealth of themes and viewpoints available on Medium’s daily stream, not a day goes by that I don’t think of Nanni Moretti’s 1989 Palombella Rossa, in which the main character starts yelling at a journalist, “LE PAROLE SONO IMPORTANTI!”
I wish people would sometimes yell this sentence at my face too. It’s easy to forget the simplicity of its message: that I need to take time with words, to weigh each one in my hand before throwing it on the page.
Nanni Moretti was definitely onto something. But he was wrong. Words are not simply important. They are magic.
As Alan Moore argues in his brilliant BBC Maestro storytelling online class:
“writing and magic are practically the same thing. You should never think of yourself as merely an entertainer for hire who is lucky to have the work. You should try to remember the tradition that you are becoming part of. You should try to remember that a writer can change the world with their writing (….). If you are a writer, then the substances that you are handling, the things that you are juggling, you are having an effect upon human history and the entirety of the human future.”
Words are powerful, and they can lift you up. Or bring you down. Let me give you an example.
Earlier this week, as I (reluctantly) watched the funeral of Queen Elizabeth II on the telly, I started noticing a troubling pattern in my mind. Every time the camera focused on Charles III, I immediately thought of a word. Tampax.
It is unfortunate, to say the least, that, of all the words that have come out of the newly appointed King’s mouth, this is the one that has attached itself to the deepest recesses of my imagination, like a stubborn mussel.