It’s quite ironic that one of our first briefs dealt with super heroes and good versus evil, since that’s been in the headlines a lot this week. Whenever I think about things like that, I find the famous line from Spider-Man going through my head and it seems to have a special meaning at the moment.
The words we use are powerful and can have a huge effect on us, as writers, and on the people who read them. We all know from social media that it´s alarmingly easy to bully, intimidate and upset people with just a few simple words. It’s like that old rhyme about sticks and stones… except that we may break hearts instead.
We have all experienced the power of a kind word, a loving sentiment or a gentle enquiry. These can light up your day and make all the difference when times are hard.
Likewise, I’m sure we’ve all been on the receiving end of harsh and hurtful phrases that are thrown like weapons at our head. I don’t need to tell you how much damage and harm they can, and do, cause.
But how does this relate to us right now? Surely, we’re just writers having fun? It’s an online writing challenge, not life and death, and that’s very true. This whole challenge is meant to be fun and what we write during this month is for us to do what we want with. The pressure is off and this is our time to take chances, try out new things and experiment safely in the knowledge that no one will judge us, criticise us or even read what we’ve written if we don’t want them to. We’re all in this together, writing our short stories every day and sending them in with time to spare or at the last moment. Either way, we do a little dance of relief and pride, then wait with bated breath to see what the next day brings.
It’s unlikely that anything I write this month is going to be The Next Big Thing. I doubt if my 3-page story about an elephant who appears in the corner of a little girl’s bedroom each night will win any awards or go viral. My aim this June is not to impart any life-changing wisdom or begin an epic, worldwide period of soul-searching and peace.
But we do all have power whenever we write. How we choose to weave our magical words together can, and does, make a difference. It might be a very small difference but it’s a difference nonetheless. It may never see the light of day but even then, it affects you, the person writing it.
The famous Spider-Man quote deals with ‘great’ power and ‘great’ responsibility and although we may not write something influential right now, perhaps in future we’ll adapt them to pieces that are seen and heard and read by a much wider audience. Equally, if they stay forever on our laptop or in our notebook, they still have the power to evoke memories within us.
So perhaps, as we write about dancing, or super heroes, or the world today in all its unpredictable and frightening glory, we can try to remember that with this creative and magical power comes a certain degree of responsibility – to ourselves and to other people.
Be kind, clever, and honest, have fun, try new things, take a chance, go easy on yourself and write something you’re proud of. This is your time for self-exploration and expression in a safe place. Write what fills your heart and inspires you - even if it is only about nocturnal elephants…