Wednesday, 21 December 2011

WORDS Words words

Yesterday, I did some gardening. Trimmed palms. Planted out some choy sum. Tied up and tidied up my tomato bushes. Pulled weeds. Swept paths. Spread around snail pellets. Put liquid organic fish emulsion in my watering can and watered everything.

And then I realised that I’d done the last two jobs in the wrong order.

I’m sure the pellets will still work, but they won’t be as powerful because the instructions say that they’re best put out after rain and, therefore, after watering.

I had the right tools and provisions to do the job perfectly but the order mattered to get the best benefit.

As a writer, the same thing happens.

Words are my tools, just like a hammer, chisel and nails are tools for a carpenter, or snail pellets and fertilizer are for a gardener. And if I find a word to use and put it next to another word, then I’m building a story. But what if I chose the wrong words or put them in the wrong order? Or what if I chose a word that’s just ok, and put it in a ‘just ok’ order? I guess the story will be just ok.

Some time ago, I read (and I wish I could remember where) about a published author who was asked by a writer on how to edit a book. The author’s advice? ‘Read the first word of the manuscript. If it’s right, read the next one. Keep going until you’ve finished the book. Get every word right.'

So now I start a sentence with two words. I try to make sure those two words are the best words I can find. Then I write the next word. And now I’m learning but I’m not getting it all right yet.

But it’s important because, whether words are in a book, a song, a sentence spoken by a friend, a movie, or even a thought, they have the potential for power. And they also have potential to flit away on the breeze and make no impact.

Well, now it’s nearly Christmas and what an amazing time! But it’s not always good for everyone. Three years ago, two days before Christmas, I lost my mum to a very quick dose of cancer. Our family had a terrible Christmas that year, waiting for the small country town near where my parents lived to wake up after the Christmas break so we could have the funeral. No one could even buy flowers. Christmas will never be the same. The pain morphs a little each year and casts a shadow over Christmas for my family and I.

But, what I love about this time of the year is that it makes it ok for songs of worship to be played everywhere for weeks on end. And people, even many who don’t believe, sing ‘O Come Let Us Adore Him’, ‘O Holy Night’ and ‘Away in a Manger’ - and so they sing of Jesus.

I believe that when even non-believers sing these songs they’re speaking powerful words to themselves, and I pray that these amazing words will speak to each person’s spirit and break into their lives and, even after this season is over, that the power of the Word, our Christ, will bring salvation to each one.

Because... Jesus is called the Word. And it’s because of the amazing power of words that we can use words for His glory in the most subtle ways in our writing. We only need to get the right words in the right order. (For more information on the power of words see Genesis chapter 1 and John chapter 1.)

Jackie Randall is an English Aussie, raised in WA and living in NSW, and trying to find the right order for words in order to begin the change in readers' lives.


  1. Amen about the power of words, Jackie. I also love that non-believers sing about Jesus without really realising the power of the words they sing. What a great time of the year! Blessings. :)

  2. Hi Jackie,
    Lovely post. It always impresses me how even a sentence's syntax, the words within it, can be shuffled around to create a stronger or weaker effect. I'm really sorry to about the sadness this season holds for you, but soak in the words of the carols being sung everywhere.
    And well done on all that outdoor work :)

  3. Hi Jackie,
    Thanks for posting, it must have been terrible to have to wait to even buy flowers for your Mum. Christmas is a time when those who don't know Jesus yet, sing of His coming, as you have said may all our words in our books point to our most precious Saviour. May God bless you all [my fellow writers} and your endeavours for Him this Christmas.

  4. Thanks Jackie for this post, and sharing the mixed emotions that Christmas brings for you. I am so encouraged by the reminder of the power of the Word. I read this morning about that very power, how often we take it (and Jesus) for granted. May every little dabbling in words on our behalf be a reminder to our souls of the wonder of Grace.

  5. The words of a true wordsmith - look forward to meeting you soon in person, Jackie! My mum also died from cancer close to Christmas a few years ago. So I understand a little of how you feel around this time of year. Fortunately, we were able to bury her just one day before Christmas, despite an extreme cold spell of many degrees below zero (no, not here in Australia). I will never forget that day. Hope you will have a blessed and fruitful Christmas with many HAPPY memories this year and a strong focus on our wonderful Saviour.

  6. Jackie, thanks for your encouraging post and I hope this Christmas brings you peace, joy and many blessings :)

  7. shaping words and marshalling them to conquer the heart and mind of a reader is certainly the privilege of a writer. I'd rather dig ditches than put letters together (and I'm sure others must feel the same way). However after the article/story has been completed all the hard work, time and angst is worth it.
    Thanks Jackie for the way you caught our imagination with your words.

  8. Your words carried a lot of emotion, Jackie. Sometimes writing about things so close to us can touch other hearts and lives, too.

    In this Christmas season may you experience the truth of "God with us".