The power of words and stories

Corey - Gilbert, Arizona
Entered on April 1, 2009
Age Group: 30 - 50
Themes: creativity
  • Listen to This I Believe on RadioPublic

  • Podcasts

    Sign up for our free, weekly podcast of featured essays. You can download recent episodes individually, or subscribe to automatically receive each podcast. Learn more.

  • FAQ

    Frequently asked questions about the This I Believe project, educational opportunities and more...

  • Top Essays USB Drive

    This USB drive contains 100 of the top This I Believe audio broadcasts of the last ten years, plus some favorites from Edward R. Murrow's radio series of the 1950s. It's perfect for personal or classroom use! Click here to learn more.

I’m a writer.

I believe in the power of words and stories.

Words can sell the worst product. They can bring together cultures. They can save a life. They saved mine.

I believe in the importance of learning all the rules of good form, grammar, narrative and style.

And then knowing when to break them.

I believe writing is a combination of painting with letters and photographing a moment with a lens wide enough to capture every supernova, each star across the myriad of galaxies, yet sharp enough to focus on the depth of the black hole in the iris of a sparrow.

Sometimes it takes a poetic line to get the job done. Other times that’s too much.

A few simple words are often more than enough to give people hope, or drive them mad. Consider:

I love you.


Life in prison.

He’s dead.

The power of a story can come when you least expect it, a gift so sincere and bittersweet that it strikes you as if fired from a gun with roses for bullets.

There’s an unproven but inspiring legend that Hemingway felt his best story was only six words long: “For sale: baby shoes, never worn.”

Words and stories can also be elusive. On the worst days for a writer, a blank page is a mirror that reflects the world’s most embarrassing face. But on the best days, filling that page is like creating a mask of yourself that thousands of people will want to wear.

So it’s vital to stick it out, to seek out the story. To keep getting the words down, one letter a time.

Without myths, metaphors, similes, themes and morals, life is chaos with no theory. It’s proportion without divinity. A golden mean worth less than copper.

I’m a writer.

The stories I tell aren’t always true, but they’re always honest.

This I believe.