I’ve been a Jann Arden fan ever since I first heard “Insensitive” on the radio. Last year, I discovered Jann likes to keep journals and has even published some of her writing. So I purchased a copy of her selected journals called if i knew, don’t you think i’d tell you.
For those who might not know of Arden, here’s some information from the back jacket flap of the book: Born and raised in Calgary, Alberta, recording artist Jann Arden is undoubtedly one of Canada’s most precious resources. With six albums, 13 top ten singles, eight Juno Awards and a collection of other awards and honours, Arden’s “down home” personality has endeared her to millions of fans around the world. Away from her music career, Arden is an avid painter, active philanthropist and rising actress, having appeared in The Vagina Monologues, at the Just for Laughs comedy festival in Montreal and in feature films. if i knew, don’t you think it’d tell you? is Arden’s first book.
While just about every other journal entry in the book has touched me in some way, there is one post in particular about words that really struck a chord with me: We buy them every day. We need words to live. We hang them on our walls. Words are what I sell at the end of the day. We send them to our friends and our enemies. We need words to tell ourselves that we are here at all.
I immediately conjure up fifth grade playground wisdom that went something like “sticks and stones may break my bones, but words can never hurt me.” But we know that isn’t true. Words can hurt. Words can also heal and inspire. Spoken or written, as writers it is unbelievable the power we can compose somewhere between our fingertips and the buttons on the keyboard. We just have to say the right words.
Words might just be the easiest thing to remember whether it be the words to a song, a line from a movie, a passage from a book, advice from a parent, or quite simply the first time our companions said, “I love you.”
When I write my essay I quote words from the books because they touched us in some manner. The reviews themselves are words constructed into opinions to discuss and inform. Words tell us where we are. They tell us what we are eating. They help us understand a movie that is in a foreign language. Words are one of the few art forms that can be written, spoken, seen, heard, and even read. We can read them in our mind to ourselves, or we can read them out loud. Words, and the ability to formulate the “right” words, are a writer’s creative fodder.