The Power of Words
Everyone knows the old saying “the pen is mightier than the sword.” I suppose it's not much of a surprise that I believe that, seeing as I'm a writer. Even when I was a kid, I scoffed at “sticks and stones can break my bones, but words can never hurt me.” Words can be dangerous weapons, and kind of like the gun you were playing with but didn't know was loaded, they can hurt people when you don't even mean them to.
I recently had an experience of words hurting me even when they (probably) weren't intended to, and it got me in a pensive mood, thinking about things people have blithely said to me without realizing the damage they were doing. (And I'm sure I'm guilty of this too, no matter how hard I try to think about--and sometimes overthink--my words.) I always wonder how they could possibly not realize they were saying something hurtful, but since I can't rummage around in their minds--unlike certain characters I write about can--I'll never know.
The most egregious example I have occurred several years ago at my day job. My father had leukemia, as well as a host of smoking-related diseases. Nothing was at the point of completely disrupting his life yet, but we knew things were only going to get worse as time went on, and he was terminally ill. As I'm sure you can imagine, this was a very stressful time for me. (Especially since my mother was gravely ill at the same time!)
People at my day job knew about what was going on with my parents, and for the most part, everyone was very supportive, especially when my dad had to go into the hospital for some surgery. And then, there was my supervisor at the time, who will remain nameless. Nameless stopped by my office one day to ask how my father was doing. I gave him an update on my father's condition, at which point Nameless asked me how old my father was. I told him that he was 73. And then, Nameless said, and this is a direct quote because the words were seared into my brain: “Oh, then he's on bonus time.”
He went on to say some other things that were very insensitive, but I'd mostly stopped listening as soon as those words left his mouth. He'd proven before that there was no filter between his brain and his mouth, but never anything quite this bad. I mean, what was his point? That since my dad was old, it was okay for him to die?? (Never mind that my dad wasn't exactly a geezer!) As a writer, I spend lots of my time trying to put myself into the heads of characters who are nothing like myself--that's one of the joys of writing, at least to me. But I've never been able to figure out what was going on in Nameless's head that he thought it was okay to say something like that.
So yes, words can most definitely hurt, even when they aren't meant to. (And no, just because someone's feelings are hurt by words doesn't mean they are oversensitive.)
Last night was my turn to host our neighborhood Bunco game. Bunco, if you're not familiar with it, is a pretty silly dice-rolling game that involves absolutely no thought or strategy. It's really just an excuse for women in a neighborhood to get together and socialize.
My neighborhood has been doing the Bunco thing for over a year now, but I've rarely been able to go because it's usually been held on the same day as my local RWA meeting. But since the host gets to pick the day, I decided I would go ahead and host so I could get in on the socializing.
The absolute hardest part about playing hostess is that the party includes dinner. I'm not much of a cook, and I literally never entertain. And suddenly, I found myself having to prepare dinner for somewhere between ten and fifteen people. At least one of whom I knew was vegetarian. And I wanted to prepare foods that wouldn't get cold too fast as we waited for the stragglers to trickle in. I was just a tad intimidated, let me tell you.
I spent more time than I want to admit obsessively surfing the net, looking for recipes that would meet my criteria, since most of my favorite recipes on the rare occasions when I cook require pasta or rice, which are almost impossible to keep warm. I ended up making a chicken tortilla soup in my crock pot, and some Italian stuffed shells for my vegetarians. They both turned out very well and were relatively easy to make, so I wasn't as stressed out yesterday as I expected to be.
Everything went well, my guests all raved about dinner, and I had enough food for everyone. The only downside was the amount of time I spent on my feet over the course of the day. I'm all achy and stiff today. But I've become something of a football fan, so I'll just park myself in front of the TV with my legs propped up, and I'm sure by tomorrow I'll be as good as new.
Another New Cover!
I've gotten the cover art for the next book in my Morgan Kingsley series, The Devil You Know
. Once again, I think it's fabulous. I just keep waiting for the cover gremlins to come stomp on me, but so far, so good.
And here's the back cover blurb, in case you want to know a little more about the book:
The beautiful. The bad. The Possessed.
Some people worship them. Some people fear them. And some people—like Morgan Kingsley—go up against them toe-to-toe, flesh-to-flesh, and power against power. An exorcist by trade, Morgan is one of the few humans with an aura stronger than her possessor, even though her demon can tease her body senseless. She's also a woman who has just discovered a shocking truth: Everything she once believed about her past, her identity, may have been a lie…
With a family secret exploding around her and with a full-scale demon war igniting, Morgan is a key player in an unsettled world. Then a rogue, sociopathic demon enters her life with a bang. His name is The Hunter. And since she is the prey, Morgan has only one choice: to hunt The Hunter down—no matter what heartbreaking truths she uncovers on the way…
Happy New Year everyone! I'll be updating my website over the course of the day, putting up my new cover art, and I'll also be putting up sample chapters of Hungers of the Heart
and The Devil You Know
. Stop by and visit!