by Allison Pang
We've covered a lot of ground this week on the ins and outs of four letter words. In some ways its sort of a silly thing. Words have power, of course, but sometimes it's less about the power of the words themselves than our interpretation of them..and how much effect we choose to let them have. After all, as writers we want to use our craft to influence our readers, to use powerful phrases to evoke a response...but then we ourselves are told to "thicken up our skins" when it comes to reviews of our own work. That these opinions are only words and cannot hurt us if we don't allow it. Sticks and stones and all that.
But I do think that words have power - and the four-letter types are some of the ones are the most evocative. Love and hate, certainly - both sides of the same coin and sometimes completely interchangeable - they're probably the most obvious ones. Some of the other word-whores talked about the more "dirty" variety as well - when used correctly, they can create a visceral punch unlike any other.
But even the more mundane words can be important. Even the concept of "word" itself. It's a binding element - our word is our bond, for example. Or fear - fear can be paralyzing or it can drive us forward, sometimes for better or worse. Pain - my own personal nemesis - there are days when I've forgotten what it's like not to hurt, but sometimes it serves a very necessary purpose, particularly on an emotional level. We can't learn from our mistakes if there are no consequences behind them.
On the other hand, we can heal those who are in pain. Hope can arise from fear and so on.
In the end, it's up to us to decide how to use these words and how we let them affect us, although sometimes our experiences color that a bit. It's not always easy to do what we know is best.
But that's life.