For the Love of Words

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For as long as I can remember I’ve been a lover of words; both as a reader and a writer. I guess maybe I get it from my parents. My Mum is an avid reader, she always has a book on her bedside table. Growing up she would read whatever book my sister and I were reading, whether it be for school or pleasure. As adults we still regularly swap books with each other. My Dad, whilst not much of a reader or writer still has a great love for words; through song. He’s known to regularly instruct others to “listen to the words” as he turns up a tune. Growing up my sister and I would endure hours of Elton John in the car. I say endure because back then my sister and I hated it. Now, I have more of an appreciation of good music and don’t mind a bit of Elton John. My Dad always used to always say “Listen to the words. Do you know the story behind this song?” There was always a story. The story behind Tears in Heaven, and Paradise by the Dashboard Light. Needless to say my tiny mind was blown when I really listened to the words of Lola by The Kinks.

As a kid I loved to write stories and as a teenager I used to spend hours writing down the lyrics to songs; I could even manage to find deep meaning in a Limp Bizkit song (true story). I had a little notebook where I would write down my favourite sayings and quotes…I still have it tucked away in a drawer somewhere. Somewhere along the line I forgot about my love for words, I wouldn’t say I lost it because I’m sure it never went away, it was always there just under the surface, I just got a bit distracted by….life. That happens. But the past few years I’ve rediscovered my love of words; I’m reading and writing more than I have before. This year I even started to get paid for my writing…which is both wonderful and weird all at the same time. I try not to get too caught up in that because I know that when money become the reason for things the love can often die and I really don’t want that. I want to keep writing and reading just because I love it and if it that opens up to other things then that’s awesome too.

A couple of weeks ago I went to a talk by one of my all time favourite authors, John Marsden. Growing up my sister and I were obsessed with the Tomorrow When the War Begun series and my Mum joined us in our obsession. We listened to John talk for an hour about writing and words. Something in particular he said really stuck with me. He was talking about children and how they are so open and free in the way they use their words; often mashing them up and inventing new ones. He said we end up squashing that imagination with rules; all the rules about how we must/musn’t use words. We crush their confidence and that can often cause them to retreat. Isn’t that heartbreaking? He gave the example of a time when he took his English class to a cliff face looking out towards the ocean and asked the to write about what they saw. One girl began writing something along the lines of “the sparkling blue ocean…” and John groaned, not only because it wasn’t original but also because that wasn’t what the girl saw at all. In fact, the weather was horrible that day, there was no sun and the storm clouds were rolling in causing the sea to be a menacing dark grey colour. But the girl still described it as ‘the sparkling blue ocean’ probably because she had heard that description so many times before. She couldn’t think outside of the box.  I think it’s an important thing for both teachers and parents to remember; to allow our children the freedom to express themselves in whatever way they want, whether that be through words or something else. Let’s not limit their creativity with rules. And as adults let’s do the same. Forget about the ‘rules’ to being a  great writer and a perfect blogger, forget about what you should/shouldn’t do, just write. Write for the love of words, because there’s great power to be found in just that.

Are you a word lover? Where do you think it comes from?

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