Power of the Written Word

This week: “What are the nicest or most inspiring things people have said or written about your writing? How did it affect you?”

This is something that I never expected to experience, but let’s start with
“How did it affect you?”

Bowled over, completely bowled over.

I have to say that I have always been able to write a letter no matter what the occasion, when others were at a loss under embarrassing, sad, or tragic situations. I am the one who could come through and been told by the recipients how much my words were appreciated. However, I never expected to hear about how work put out there would affect others strongly.

I was wrong.

And although sometimes the heartfelt comments were not told to me directly, I am grateful to generous publishers who let me know.
I wrote spiritual/religious poetry hoping to be put into two Books of Inspiration, and my works were chosen. I didn’t think that I would ever know if they were like beyond the editors, but I later heard that a couple of mine were pointed out in feedback from their readers.

Since then I have included one of the poems (or two) when writing to select people undergoing stressful circumstances and they, (or a person close to them), have told me how much a particular line comforted or lifted them, or that they had quoted me to others.
This tells me that it is more than them just being polite, not if they quote specifics.
When someone laughs at a story, (“I laughed so hard at…” or gasps, (“Who are you, Alfred Hitchcock?!”), it feels great. It has been in turn uplifting, inspiring and encouraging to me. When a greeting card I wrote was printed by a national company, the contract came with the phrase: “We see something in your work and would like you to submit more”, it has bucked me up over the years, (although I never submitted more to them).

I have other praises, but the feedback that is most satisfying came from the work which I fought to get published in full.

I imagine others are pretty tired of my references to the article I wrote about my aunt’s radio program, but please let me explain why it fits so well in this week’s topic.
When I started looking into my aunt’s copious notes, programs, correspondence and radio logs, I realized that there was quite a story contained in them. When a publisher-editor said that he was interested, but expected a much shorter article, I asked if I could add a link to the full story. Intrigued, he asked to see it and published it in full. Once he read it, he saw why I needed to tell everything.

A number of people said how they remembered my aunt’s show and many related how much it had meant to their families, especially their parents and grandparents who had come from the Old Country. They heard familiar music from Italy, and also news and information in Italian, (as many did not have a grasp of English). Some of the people were now living far out of the radio station’s broadcast area, (the show had ended when the station changed formats about sixty years before), yet it had made quite an impression on their families and their early lives.

If that was not enough, my cousins heard from people who also remembered the show, (also far from the original broadcast area). One cousin told me of several warm and fuzzy feelings brought back to his friends and how touched and they happy they were to be reminded of Sunday afternoons with their families sitting around the radio, or how they drifted in and out while their elders discussed the news, then listened to, (and sang with), the songs.

So far, that has been the height of my feedback and still makes me most proud, although now that I think…

“U.S.A. Weekend” had an article about a book someone had written about it being “never too late” to healing feelings. They asked for people to submit their stories onto a blog and I knew that I had one. It was how, after about 4 decades, I contacted an old schoolmate to let her know that I often thought of her, and how much I had appreciated her mother, who had been our music teacher. The schoolboard had cut back and stopped the music program, and soon after, we heard that the lady had cancer.

We were forbidden to discuss it or her death. We were in second grade and the school was strict. The daughter told me that she had never known about the gag order and thought that no one had cared. She was touched and said how very much it all meant to her to hear. We became good friends after that, and she has mentioned the story and how she has shown it to people over the years.

(The magazine contacted me because they said it was exactly what they were looking for. Alas, it was just before USA Weekend folded, and we never got the chance to discuss it going any farther.)

So, yes, sometimes writing is better than saying and be they fiction or heartfelt letters/posts, they can convey feelings straight to others’ hearts, to be understood and savored in another’s own time.

About Tonette Joyce

Tonette was a once-fledgling lyricists-bookkeeper, turned cook/baker/restaurateur and is now exploring different writing venues,(with a stage play recently completed). She has had poetry and nonfiction articles published in the last few years. Tonette has been married to her only serious boyfriend for more than thirty years and she is, as one person described her, family-oriented almost to a fault. Never mind how others have described her, she is,(shall we say), a sometime traditionalist of eclectic tastes.She has another blog : "Tonette Joyce:Food,Friends,Family" here at WordPress.She and guests share tips and recipes for easy entertaining and helps people to be ready for almost anything.
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6 Responses to Power of the Written Word

  1. Jeff Salter says:

    Wonderful that you were able (& willing) to contact that fellow student from years before who’d lost her mother. But what a shame that girl had to grow up with such a memory — that she’d believed nobody cared enough to speak with her during her intense grief. Wow.
    Some grieving people can’t or won’t talk about what they’re feeling — and we should not compel them. But many grieving people want or need to talk about their feelings — and we should make ourselves available. To listen… not to “advise”. I often see or hear people doling out advice of one kind or another — to friends or relatives in intense grief. Nope. That is not the time to boss them around. Gentle suggestions? Yes, if properly timed. But the main thing is to listen.

    Liked by 1 person

    • It’s hard to judge on what and when, Jeff. I think that is why, unless you are quite close to the person or see them on a regular basis,(work, church, etc.) and are face-to-face often, writing is better. They can put off reading or reread when they are thinking more clearly. You may give them then the opportunity to speak to you later, since the ice has been broken.
      Grief clouds your mind terribly.
      You need to look for clues. Long silences or pauses in conversations mean that they are lost in their thoughts of the person. If there is any good memory or a happy question,(Where did you meet? When did they grow up? Don’t I remember that he/she was a junior camp counselor?), and if they start talking about their loved one, they may open up about what is hard for them about the loss. Then, as you say, LISTEN. Advice is no good, you are right.No one knows what is in another’s heart or everything in their relationship. They may break down and tell you on their own, but if you ask, they will cover for the person’s memory and try to make them look flawless, or cover for what they think was their own failing or, (often unwarranted), feelings of guilt.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Patricia Kiyono says:

    How lovely that you lifted your friend’s spirits by letting her know how much her mother meant to you. I schools would handle this much differently now, because when my daughter was in second grade, the teacher in the classroom next to hers was killed on her way to work, and I felt the the school did an excellent job of handling student grief. But how sad for your friend that people felt the need to keep things quiet.


    • Yes, like her children would forget for a second that she had died? Mary wept to find out that ALL of us liked her mother and were upset.
      The mother of a child in my grandchildren’s school died and although almost none of the kids knew her, they brought in grief counselors. Understandable, really, I mean, we all worried about our own mothers and then I guess we decided that there was something different about Mary and her brothers so that it would happen to them and never to us.


  3. Elaine Cantrell says:

    I know that your thoughtfulness was so much appreciated by someone who’d lost her mother. You have a kind heart.


    • Thanks, but honestly, I had been carrying a guilty conscience over both mother and daughter for over 40 years before I reconnected with the daughter, and it was a load off, to be truly frank.


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