|Reporting to you from a perfect Ohio afternoon...Ignore my weird toes.|
I can't say I was exactly politically informed, but I knew enough about how to fire off a letter to my local council members, school board, congressmen, and even to companies with shoddy products when I read something in the paper or otherwise encountered something that bothered me. Sometimes, I even received responses.
I was a weird kid.
I've been reflecting on this personal history in words as I continue to ruminate on a recent rejection for a submission in which I'd invested a lot of work, and as such, became more emotionally invested in acceptance than I wanted to admit at the time. A couple weeks since the news, and it's still sensitive to the touch.
I've been working on remembering that this rejection doesn't invalidate me and what I do. I spent a good amount of time feeling sorry for myself, but now I'm remembering that words matter, that my words matter.
I recently finished reading an advanced copy of Vox by Christina Dalcher. It's a Handmaid's Tale-type of setting in which a religious dictator in the White House decides that all females should be limited to speaking no more than 100 words per day. The book pays homage to Atwood's classic, though includes more "ripped from the headlines" sort of details (a reference to MAGA lets you know who she's talking about if there was any doubt), and the end is twisty in a pop-fiction, it all works out happily ever after kind-of-way. But the point is that words matter. If you don't use your voice, you will lose your voice.
I know that my words have mattered. I can look back at letters I have written that have helped friends or been the impetus for changes in the private and public world. These changes have been small. I haven't cured cancer, I haven't changed the course of international policy, but I've tangibly changed a couple things in the world because of a letter or opinion I have written. If everyone could change one or two small things in their immediate world by embracing their unique talent--whether that be art or writing or gardening or music or math or farming or science or carpentry or listening or any one of hundreds of vocations that we find ourselves called to, then everyone's lives would be just a little better.
It reaffirms that my words matter. They may not capital-M Matter in the way I wish they would right now in this exact moment, but they do matter. Words matter. That will need to be a good enough reason to keep at it right now in this moment.