Words Fly Away

Writers work hard and are pretty serious when in fact, every thought known to man has already been put down on paper. Still, we labor away. Writers feel they have something unique to say that must be expressed and the world is incomplete until that’s done. But what happens to our words is another issue.

Recently, I learned an important lesson about writing and about life. A member of my writing group, Jean, died and it caused me to ponder. Jean had faithfully come to the group with the latest chapter of the memoir she was writing for her children. She explained she wanted them all to understand the whole story of her marriage to her first husband of twenty-six years who was an alcoholic.

She further explained the importance of the story because some of her children were from her second marriage and might not fully accept or understand what she went through. And what she put her children through.  We group members anxiously awaited the next chapter of this riveting story.

As the weeks went on, Jean was clearly experiencing the stress of bringing up these long forgotten thoughts and feelings probably buried deep until now. Her writing was clear and direct, her story told chronologically.

At first the group applied our usual critique methods but Jean was sure why she said this or omitted that or used a certain word. When we said maybe something she’d talked about in the group but hadn’t written might be a good addition to the story, she explained that her children already knew that part.

And after a while we realized that Jean had her story to tell and critique was not what she wanted or needed. We then became attentive and grateful listeners. Jean felt such peace when she gave the finished memoir to her children. After that, she took a break from the writing group and shortly thereafter she died. Jean made a great impression on us and we will miss her smile and quiet demeanor.

What Jean taught me was to respect the work of others. Not to be so sure that my suggestions might help the work be better. Maybe the writing is just the way it’s meant to be already. I’m as guilty as others in being a bit aggressive in critiquing.

Where do our words end up is an important question. Jean’s words have flown from her computer to wherever her children are preserving the memoir she sent them. We can’t look her words up on the internet and re-read them. We have to be satisfied with our memories. Her words have flown away.

And that’s why it’s so important for writers to do what makes them happy. So many get caught up in what they should do or become overly concerned with what others will think of what they’ve written. In the end, it really doesn’t matter. All our words will fly away.



1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. Diana DeSpain Schramer
    Jul 16, 2018 @ 10:19:56

    Well said, Karin. And what a lovely tribute to your friend Jean. She’s truly an inspiration about writing with integrity, despite the opinions and judgments of others. I believe all writers know in their heart what they need to say and how to say it.



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