Friday, December 18, 2009

Enduring Words

Words are powerful. Images, too. How many times have you heard a quote or a snippet of a poem, story, ad, letter, and immediately had a picture in your mind where the rest of the words are filled in and you have a memory association?

Rage against the dying of the...

It is a truth universally acknowledged that any man in possession of a good fortune...

Yes, Virginia....

What is it about enduring phrases that can bring back such visceral memories and that can fill in the blanks of the remaining sentence? Could it be the emotional impact of the words? The symbolism? A trick of the mind caught rapt at one time?

I just reread The Sun's letter to Virginia about Santa Claus. I hadn't remembered anything but the famous sentence that begins the letter's second paragraph. I had recalled the whimsical beauty of the words, but not the specifics. I did, however, flash to my childhood, sitting in the back seat of the car with a piece of hard candy in my mouth, hearing the words, "Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus," on the radio as we drove over a bridge. Powerful!

And inspiring. Have I written anything that would stick with a person? A sentence or phrase so impactful that, on hearing it again, a reader would remember where she was when she first saw it? I'm not sure, but now I definitely want to go back through my manuscript and see if I managed the imagery and tightened the prose well enough.

What words or phrases have stuck with you? What do you think drives those words to imprint on the mind?

2 comments:

Audra Harders said...

Wonderful food for thought, KL.

The phrase *life is like a box of chocolates* comes to mind so often. Actually, many phrases from the movie Forrest Gump are embedded in my mind. Is it because they are simply stated and in perfect accordance with the situation? I don't know.

Much like Virginia, maybe it's just seeing the world through innocent eyes (Forrest) that makes us remember the times...

One can only hope for such infamy.

Donnell said...

KL, I've already told you you wrote was so important to me, I printed it out. So yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus ;)

Good comments, Audra, Forrest Gump had some fantastic, memorable lines.

I just looked up the most memorable quotes, and it's amazing how many came from Casa Blanca....

Here's looking at you, kid...

Louis, I think this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship...

Play it again, Sam...As time.

Round up the usual suspects...

We'll always have Paris...

Of all the gin joints, in all the towns in all the world, she walks into mine...

No wonder they call that film a classic, eh?