The magic of words


“Remember, at every point, why you started writing in the first place.

Remember how desperately, right in this very moment, you want to tell this story.

You get into it because you have a story to tell, because you sense, in some wordless, wild way that you don’t know why and you didn’t earn it or ask for it, but for some reason, there are things you can find words for that might maybe matter to someone else, that might set someone free, that will make them feel one tiny bit less alone, like they’ve made a friend, like they’re not crazy, like they’re not wrong just for being who they are. 

You write because you think it might matter someday, to someone, the way other people’s words mattered to you when you read them in your dorm room or under your covers late at night or on a train all alone.”

–  Shauna Niequist, Why We Write

I love that quote, because it’s just plain true. Books are magic. Words are magic. Words can bring comfort, wisdom, direction, conviction or sometimes just a much-needed little nudge that you are actually not a total weirdo.

In high school, corny as it is to admit this, the Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants books did this for my teenage self. In college, it was Lauren Winner’s Girl Meets God, and, also a little corny to admit, Captivating.

In recent years, in addition to books, blogs have provided this encouraging nudge, that same reminder that maybe I’m not alone. My daily favorites include Christine Hoover’s steady wisdom, Hayley Morgan’s challenging insights on creativity and business, Sarah Bessey’s beautiful encouragements, and Amy Turn Sharp’s crazy awesome poetry.

And y’all, both of Shauna Niequist’s books will always be favorites. They feel like letters from the future from a wiser, older best friend. Her words pointed me forward and reminded me that faith and resilience and the need for celebration are all very real. Anne Lamott’s Traveling Mercies was like an amazing letter from a long-lost, wise, crazy aunt. And, most recently, reading Mary Oliver’s beautiful Dream Work while I sipped coffee and listened to the creek from the porch of our cabin in Oklahoma felt like such a good gift.

All this to say, words matter and your words matter.

Your words can encourage, light-up, remind, urge forward, embolden and even point people to God. Your words are no small thing.

I’m not yet sure what writing is supposed to look like in my life; I would love to have a big-picture, visionary answer, but I don’t yet, so the above quoted post was a good reminder that my words can matter and that I need to keep moving forward, albeit slowly, with writing and reading as much as my current responsibilities allow.

When you think of books that make you feel a little less alone, like you’re talking to a friend, like maybe you’re not crazy, what books come to mind?

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3 Responses to The magic of words

  1. You are so kind, sweet Leslie. I do hope you move forward with writing because I like to read your words.

  2. it is amazing how close this is to what we were talking about yesterday. thank you for sharing! and thank you for continuing to write.

  3. Love the comment about Anne Lamott seeming like a long lost crazy aunt! Ha–totally agree. Gotta love her!

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