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Words

Like most writers, I like words.  I say most because I can’t speak for all writers.  There are probably writers out there who hate words in the same way that there are probably architects out there who hate brick.  Though… you could always construct a building with another material, and it’s very difficult to write a book without words.  Though not impossible.

Still.

I was reading Liane Moriarty’s The Hypnotist’s Love Story (which I said I wasn’t going to read because I don’t like the topic of stalking, and yet here I am, reading it) and on page 366 she writes,

She actually didn’t want him to speak about it.  Words would just tangle things up further and make them feel worse.  How strange.  She had always thought words were the answer to everything; after all, she treated people with nothing but words.

I paused after reading that, and then wrote it down to remember it, trying to think of a time when things were made worse by putting it into words.  And I couldn’t come up with a single time.  Sure, there were words I would have rather never have heard, but the reality is that the feeling or the action would have still existed even if I didn’t know about them.  Even if it wasn’t told to me.

I couldn’t think of a single time when putting something into words made the problem worse rather than make it more manageable.  Words contain the big, messy ideas; contain as in the sense of container.  Words box them in so they don’t ooze all over life.  Few things really make sense to me or feel the proper size until I’ve put them into words.

I don’t know… can you think of a time when words weren’t the solution; when talking or writing things out made things worse instead of help?

Look at this… a tiny post… just a hair too long to be a proper #MicroblogMonday post.  Though you can be certain that I’m working on tomorrow’s #MicroblogMonday post before I go to sleep tonight.  Are you?

14 comments

1 Nicoleandmaggie { 11.16.14 at 8:09 am }

I am going to have Eliza Doolittle stuck in my head all day. http://youtu.be/-R_lv6_5Mvg

2 a { 11.16.14 at 9:39 am }

I’m actually not a huge fan of talking things out when it comes to making decisions. There are usually only a couple choices and endless debate is frustrating to me. And, people talking about feelings never comes out well – if your feelings are good ones, brevity seems to be the norm. If not, wordiness is apparently necessary.

I’m a bigger fan of the written word. I think people put more thought into words they write than into words they say.

3 Megan { 11.16.14 at 10:09 am }

The only time I can think of when words “make things worse” is when you try not to think about something and putting it into words makes it real. Like when someone dies, or you have to make a life-changing decision. But it’s like ripping off a bandaid I think -you have to use words to get to the real wound and then use them more to heal it.

4 Lori Lavender Luz { 11.16.14 at 10:24 am }

I can’t think of a time when words made things worse, but I do think that sometimes they are limiting.

When I travel to countries where I don’t speak the language (which is almost all of them) I take the advice of my mentor and try to “speak” heart to heart with locals, to intuit meaning without common words. I never got very good at it, but it did show me how limiting words can be — if you don’t know the same set of words.

Also, there are sometimes when I intuitively know with a friend/loved one that it’s better to abide without words than to try to put big emotions in word-containers.

5 StacieT { 11.16.14 at 12:45 pm }

I think they are plenty of moments when you take your cues from the the person you are with and know that words are not the answer, instead something like a warm, loving embrace is the only thing that will make it bearable. Maybe a time for words will come later, but that isn’t guaranteed.

6 Jill A. { 11.16.14 at 12:49 pm }

Yes, I think words can make things worse. There are nasty, spiteful things that should not be put into writing. Writing seems to make things more permanent. The rule I try to follow is to not put anything horrible into writing. That’s what I taught my kids with their fights with their friends. My temper should be put into writing.

A thoughtful piece of writing is one thing. A thoughtless blow of anger is another. I agree that you can thoughtfully write about anything, even horrible things and emotions. But thoughtlessly, that can hurt.

7 daniel { 11.16.14 at 1:27 pm }

The right words, not just words. Then again, in many contentious situations knowing what the right words are can be challenging.

I was actually taken with the topic of stalking. How many of us go and read blog posts without commenting. In a way that’s a form of stalking or voyeurism. How many blogs do we read versus comment upon?

8 Valery Valentina { 11.16.14 at 4:06 pm }

I’m with StacieT.
Also, when you gesture for someone to close a zipper or a button instead of saying it it can be more discreet.
Or when you hold someone’s hand for support but don’t want to distract. Or when you offer help to someone who finds it hard to accept.
(Or when that kiss happened that was too close to the lips.)

9 Queenie { 11.16.14 at 8:05 pm }

I’m with Megan. There have been some points in my life when I’ve had to deal with some very difficult things, and it made me feel worse to talk or write about the situations. But that phase tends to be transient–eventually, words help. And yes, I’m thinking about my post for tomorrow. 🙂

10 Justine { 11.16.14 at 10:50 pm }

I think I fall more into the “words don’t always make it better” camp … but that’s because I think language is just inadequate. Sometimes we try to express ourselves, and the words don’t help us to shape or contain those messy ideas in a way that the person will understand … so it’s almost like our attempt at communication pushes us farther apart: no, we think, I didn’t MEAN it that way. It would be OK if we could keep trying, but sometimes we’re not given that luxury.

11 earthandink { 11.17.14 at 1:46 am }

I get clarity from words and from talking things out. I will say that I come from very word oriented people. Maybe that’s part of it? (Why I pick far less communicative people as partners half the time, I don’t know.)

12 md { 11.17.14 at 5:44 am }

back when i still kept a journal, there were certain things that i never wrote about, because to me, writing them would make them real/permanent in a way that i couldn’t then take back. similarly, there were some things/thoughts that i never told even my closest friends, because then they would be ‘real’, as opposed to if i didn’t put them into words.

i think the same thing still applies to me today. the fear of parental death for instance, is something that i simply cannot ever write/talk about. it is too big, too agonizing.

and yes, sometimes, a hug, a hand squeeze is more comforting than any words.

13 Karen (River Run Dry) { 11.17.14 at 6:27 am }

Yes, words can make things much, much worse. I grew up hounded and criticized, even when it was “loving” (aka: My dad was the kind of guy who called us idiots lovingly). As such, there are times where I have acerbic, bitter, angry, yet truthful words which I do not allow myself to give voice to. They’re a part of my mind’s narrative, they are words that are used as a shield and armor, and I do not use them.

14 Bronwyn { 11.17.14 at 9:55 am }

No, I get that. Some things aren’t ready to be boiled down into the articulable. That particularly happens to me with exciting plans – they need to build enough before they can take that sort of form.

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