Words' Worth

Internet Jun 27, 2020

Last month, I received a rejection letter from a renowned literary magazine, which sounded more like an empathetic enquiry of my well-being and less like a rejection letter. It made me happy. I had submitted to them almost a year ago and forgotten about it.
It was not a generic mail, and it made me think how much of being a writer rides on being empathetic, and trusting of everyone around you. It needs you to be strong and yet sensitive. Vulnerable, and yet assertive. Patient, and yet kind. It’s not easy to be a writer. It’s never easy to be someone who is always trying.
The letter read like this: “Dear Swathi,

Thank you for submitting to ___ ____ ____, and for your patience in awaiting a response. Although we won't be carrying your work in the magazine, we are grateful for the opportunity to read and consider it, and we hope that you are staying safe in these difficult times.” I wasn’t even expecting a response, let alone a rejection letter. I decided to write about why language matters. What we say, how we think, who we speak to and what we want convey matters a great deal.
Read Words’ Worth and comment below to let me know what you think.

Words' Worth

When all the words in the English Language
congregate in the
Great Hall of Literary Structures,

Would they take pride in being—
the most difficult?
the longest?
the most confusing?

What would they fight about — 
their text colour?
their font sizes,
their grammatical patterns and
their partners?

Would parentheses be afraid of
the Oxford comma, or would a comma
guard itself from a full stop’s inherent need
to end conversations?  

How would they arrive?
Seated together in their wagons,
or galloping on white horses with wings?

Would they form their sentences
on their journey?
Or would they break off from paragraphs
to meet other ‘better’ words?

Would vowels be more coveted than consonants?
Would they come from a condescending,
complicated society filled with vileness
where vowels married consonants
but never their own kind?

Would ‘queue’ be a redundant word in the meetings
with nothing much to say?
or would it be the strongest, shortest word?

Would their discussions revolve around
what happens in their books
and their experiences
with different types of readers?

Or would they fight over
the best book in the world,
the best Presidents and Prime Ministers
being their Writers and Editors?

Would a cat with a capital C be superior
to a lazy cat in the middle of a sentence?

Would a tear be upset about a tear?
Or would a fragile piece of lead
be proud for being mistaken for lead?

Would ‘see’ and ‘sea’ see and greet each other
discussing the actual sea,
waves lapping and humans surfing?

Would homonyms and homophones
team up to compete against
homographs and heteronyms?
(Read a dictionary, humans!)

For you see, all the world’s a stage,
and all the words, in a cage.

If they congregated with good intentions,
they’d make a wonderful book,
but right now, they are ripping each other up
and warring to sound gibberish  —
the exact state of our States,
and the World today.

Say what you want, but
language matters always.

Photo by Patrick Tomasso on Unsplash


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