Words have power.
There isn't a person in the world who hasn't had their lives changed by words, whether they were read, spoken, or heard. Words are the symbols we use to craft meaning out of this whirlwind of life. There are three elements that decide how powerful certain words are going to be. I will share a personal experience to demonstrate:
1: Source - We live in a perpetual avalanche of input, opinions, and advice. A large part of staying sane is deciding which sources deserve your attention. Throughout our lives, we slowly assemble an informal council of family members, friends, and leaders that help us along in forming our own opinions. For core values, most of humanity looks to a source no lower than God himself as they search for wisdom in their myriad sacred texts. Very powerful words indeed.
In my personal example, the source was none other than best-selling fantasy author Tracy Hickman. He and his wonderful wife, Laura, provided me with hundreds of delightful hours reading their many novels. Imagine my surprise when I chanced upon a blog entry by Mr. Hickman where he talked about me and my book!
2: Content - Any writer would love to believe that their writing is universal, but how much certain content will impact a person is always going to be a very personal matter. There are phrases that have always had power to tug at my heartstrings and stir my blood, though I would have a devil of a time explaining why to anyone else.
In his blog, Tracy Hickman talked about how I had knocked on his door (quite randomly) while going around selling my book door-to-door. It would be perfectly understandable had he seen me as a nutcase (many do) or an annoyance (most do). Instead he talked about how much he admired what I was doing.
3: Timing - Life is timing. Every decision or indecision, every action or inaction, we can plot our life of achievements and regrets in terms of "just in time" or "too late." Our very identity hinges upon the snapshot of circumstances that we find ourselves in. Who among us can say that we are the same person we were ten years ago? So great words, regardless of source or content, can slip by unnoticed if the time isn't right.
The timing couldn't have been more perfect for me to find Mr. Hickman's words. I had just finished a rough week of sales on the doorsteps of rude people. I had just had an author event with almost no attendance at all, in spite of dozens promising to attend. Worst of all, I had just received my first three-star review, not horrible, but my worst so far (English teachers, just no pleasing them, know what I mean?)
So it was that I was feeling quite discouraged and was searching the internet to see if any other bad news had surfaced when I ran across the Hickmans' blog. "That is the kind of author who deserves to be read." That's what he said about me. Those words, at that time, were exactly what I needed to dust myself off, square my shoulders and face the world once again with a devilish grin on my face.
I can only hope that one day my words will have that same power for someone else.
For anyone interested in reading the whole blog post, it can be found at: http://scribesforge.com/lyceum/100/door-door-author/