Choose Your Words Carefully

Months ago, during a call with my agent, I scrawled the words Rebel On The Page across the top of my notebook.

I thought it might make a good title for the book that was starting to take shape.

I wasn’t thinking about the power of words, or what including such a belter as ‘rebel’ in the title might mean for the writing process.

If you’ve been playing along at home for a while, you’ll know that this book has been, oh, ten months in the making so far. I thought it was going to be done in two. It has fought me every step of the way, like no book has fought me before.

It’s a rebel, no doubt about it, and all I can do is hang on.

It’s a reminder that the words we choose have real meaning and real effect.

You have to be careful with them, because they have a life of their own long before you get to them, and they ain’t gonna change a thing for you.

But finding the right words is part of the fun of writing. There’s so much joy to be had in landing on just the right one to capture what you mean.

The right word at the right time can change everything.

Of course, Rebel has stuck to this project, no matter how many different titles I try. So I’m choosing to embrace the chaos.

It’s time for me to return to the fray, but I didn’t want to leave you short today, so below, I’m sharing a beautiful poem, published yesterday by¬†Samantha Reynolds. I hope it’s full of the right words for you, at just the right time.

THERE IS NO SHAME IN HAPPINESS

There is no shame
in the serene drunkenness
you get when you stand
under a linden tree in summer,
wearing the smell of honey
and the rumble of contented bees
around you like a bonnet.

There is no shame
in careening downhill on a bike
with your legs out wide
as the wind lifts the heat
right out of the air
and you are going so fast
no one can even hear you singing.

There is no shame
in loving the movie you saw
without restraint,
in reading whatever
you want to read,
in admitting
wholeheartedly
to hope.

Who told you
it was ignorant
to be happy?

How dare they forbid
something so close
to peace?

Happiness does not ignore suffering;
it is what makes the suffering
bearable enough
so there is energy
leftover
for change.

— Samantha Reynolds (shared with permission)