Monday, October 14, 2013

Words are powerful

Sipsey Fork of the Warrior River
Words are powerful. I sometimes forget that, even though I’m a writer. Two things happened this week that reminded me once again of the power of words.

I’ve been writing a weekly column in the Daily Mountain Eagle since January of 2007. 

Sometimes I manage to string words together that resonate with readers. I know this because from time to time I get stopped in the grocery store or at Wal-Mart, and they say the column I wrote this week (and they call the topic by name) “really hit home with me.”

“I feel like you’re writing about my life,” is another phrase I hear a lot. I am humbled and flattered that people read my work.

This past week when we played for the Merchants Association’s First Friday night event, a woman came up to me with a faded-yellow copy of a Daily Mountain Eagle LifeStyles page from 2008. 

She said that she’d been carrying the page around in her car because it contained a column I’d written that changed her life. She hoped to run into me one day and get me to sign it for her.

The only word I could manage was, really?

I could tell by the look in her eyes that she had a story to tell. She went on to explain that five years ago she was a single mom with six children at home. With that many mouths to feed, life is tough, but apparently it had been particularly unkind to her, and she’d pretty much become a hermit never leaving her house.

She told me that after reading my column, she made a decision to start going out one day a month and take some time for herself.

She said she’s done it every month since then and because of those words, she’s met incredible people, made new friends and taken back her life.

She asked if I’d consider autographing the paper, which I was more than happy to do. I scribbled something on the page, handed the paper back to her, and then hugged her. I told her I’m glad my words had helped.

The second thing that happened this week, I landed another newspaper for my writing.

I’ve pitched my column to several newspapers in Mississippi, Georgia and Alabama with some success.

The publisher of a large paper in eastern Alabama was mildly interested in my work, but I never got a commitment. 

I decided to send the publisher my column each week until either he started running it or told me to stop sending them. 

This past week’s column on Why I Love October struck a chord with him. 

He told me that he too is in the autumn of his life, and that the column nailed it for him. 

He ran it this week.

I love living on our small farm, but sitting on my screen porch in the suburbs of Empire (that always gets a laugh from people who live out here in the sticks), jabbing away at the keyboard of my laptop, I sometimes feel a little isolated. Writing can be a lonely job.

There were times I’ve wondered if what I write matters. I think one of the saddest fates anyone could face is going to the grave wondering if they made a difference.

It’s gratifying to work in a profession where you can sometimes see your work did make a difference.

I shot the photo above today with my iPhone using the Hipstamatic app.

My book Life Happens is available on You can contact him via email:


  1. Anonymous10:35 PM

    How wonderful for you, Rick--more so with the woman with the 5 year old column than with the publisher!!

  2. Your words do touch lives...never doubt that!

  3. Your words touch me Rick... I hope my words will touch other people too... ;-)

  4. It must be incredibly rewarding to know that your words make a difference in someone's life. Yours certainly do rick.

  5. How great to have an experience like that. I've enjoyed your words daily and it just goes to show you that we never know how we can touch others . Maybe we can't do it with the written word, but a compliment, a smile, or a long overdue call can do wonders. Keep those columns coming!

  6. Imagine the joy and contentment of this woman carrying this newspaper article all this time hoping to run into you. You have been an instrument in making lasting changes in her life. You can take that satisfaction with you no matter what life hands you.
    Congratulations, your persistence paid off.

  7. That is so nice when people recognize you on the street.
    Writing is a gift especially when you touch people and bring them joy.
    My writing is rough as I had been trained in Poly Sci to be curt and cut to the chase.In those days your mind was swift, focused, almost to the point of cruelty, the point being to confuse your opponent and you never searched for words in the field you were in.You walked like a fine tuned string, taut , strong, walking toward something very powerful, energetic and the sky was the limit. Good days they were.But then decisions had to be made and once they were, things went in a different direction and one had to slow down, mature, embrace love and open up ones' heart.Once in a while theold days pop up and you live like a sleeping tiger, waiting for the moment. lol

  8. That's such a good feeling to know you helped someone isn't it? So glad you got the positive feedback that one can only hope for. I always knew you were a good guy!!! Love that photo!!!

  9. Two wonderful, inspirational stories, Rick. I love that you made a difference in that woman's life and that you touched the heart of an editor that has probably seen and heard it all. Good job! xo Diana

  10. Rick, just a quick P.S. here...I got you CD today and it's great! I really enjoyed all the songs. Thanks for getting it here so quickly. Everyone should get this..hint, hint all bloggers out there!


Please consider sharing

Email Signup Form

Subscribe to our mailing list

* indicates required