Daddy's Christmas Angel

Monday, March 17, 2014

The Power of Words in Writing and in Life

The words we speak, write, and even paint have power. I learned a lesson long ago as a child that words can hurt and that hurt can last forever. As a little five or six-year-old, I was happily singing a popular song when my uncle laughed at me and said that I couldn't carry a tune. His words stung, and I never forgot them. My childish joy was gone, and I didn't try to sing again except later on as part of the church choir.

"A blow with a word strikes deeper than a blow with a sword." Robert Burton, The Anatomy of Melancholy

As writers, we understand the power of words. We recall the first time we saw our names in bylines on stories we wrote for newspapers or magazines. We were proud of the headlines above those stories. The words meant something. Other people were reading the words we hammered out on typewriters and, later, on our computer keyboards.

Many of us have discovered the power of words in the titles of our books. Those words, the titles, can mean the difference between good sales and minimal sales. A few years ago, I was enamored with the title, Night Watch, for my novel. Since part of the story featured an art theft of old master paintings, the name of one of the most famous of those paintings seemed perfect. Not so. Other books had the same title, so mine did not stand out. I lost the power of words I once held in my hand.

Artists find power in the words they paint, or sometimes hide, in a work of art. I have a series of work
"Will There Be Peace Anywhere" ©Mary Montague Sikes
that I am creating that usually includes the word "peace." That word is quite powerful. Its use in art adds to the power, I believe.

I am thinking about the power of words this week because that is the subject of an authors luncheon talk I will make on Friday. This is a fundraiser by the York River Circle of King's Daughters in Gloucester, a group that supports the Children's Hospital of the King's Daughters in Norfolk VA, a very worthwhile cause. (Anyone interested in purchasing tickets, please let me know.)

Words have power and so do good deeds.


Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

You're right that a title can make a huge difference. I'm fortunately all three of mine are unique.

L. Diane Wolfe said...

I see the "peace!" It's a beautiful painting.

Unknown said...

I love the painting. How big is it?

Notes Along the Way with Mary Montague Sikes said...

Alex, the lesson I learned with titles is to always check and then check some more. Great that your titles are unique!

Thank you, Diane.

Amy, the painting is on Arches 30 x 22 whole sheet of watercolor either 300# or 140# paper. (I use both weights.) Including the frame and mat, it's 42 x 33.