At Home Abroad: The Value of Sharing Your Words


Courtesy of Larissa Odabai

Author Larissa Odabai sits at the For Sale Pub in Budapest; where no one leaves without sharing their words on the walls, ceiling or floor.

Larissa Odabai, Marketing Manager

Graphic: Erin Krogh / The Ebbtide

There are certain things that everyone knows to be true. Let’s look at three:

1. Nothing is better than eating fresh french fries in the car during a road trip.
2. The world would be a sadder place without J.K. Rowling’s “Harry Potter.”
3. When it comes to our own creations, we tend to be very critical.

One truth I’ve learned is that writing is meant to be shared. Not only is it a form of art and should therefore be spread like dandelions in the summer, but words are what connect us to one another and help us truly understand ourselves.

I’ll admit it: there was a time when I worried so much about whether or not my writing was worthy of being read by others that I would spend several hours analyzing each line. When I was finally done, it would end up in one of my many notebooks collecting dust on the bookshelf.

Putting Words to Work

Sharing my work has resulted in a number of unforgettable memories and taught me how to be more self-confident when it comes to my own creation. It has also saved me countless times.

One such instance occurred during my solo travels through Southeast Asia. During my last week there, my wallet was stolen and I needed a place to sleep — so after a very dramatic panic attack, I improvised and stayed up until midnight writing poems for tourists in exchange for money.

While you might view your work as pointless today, it might mean the world to someone tomorrow.

That trip taught me the most valuable thing I know today: as long as I have words, I have a superpower.

I had this epiphany while I was standing at the front desk of the nicest hostel I could find in Koh Pha Ngan, Thailand. After spending nine hours selling poems, I was able to return and tell the receptionist “I want your best room!”

That night, I slept safe and sound in a single bedroom — not a 12-bed dorm — so proud of myself that I woke up the next morning with the previous night’s smile still stuck to my face.

Today, I know that every observation and experience is another great story to tell. So the next time you hear a voice in your head telling you that whatever you wrote isn’t “good enough,” I want you to tell it to shut up. You need to be brave to share your words!

In fact, I suggest taking every opportunity you can to get your words out there; because they matter. While you might view your work as pointless today, it might mean the world to someone tomorrow.

When I say this, I think of the creations that were never meant to be shared but somehow found their way to us anyway — almost as if they needed to be seen and understood by the world.

Creating a Legacy

A classic example is the diary of Anne Frank. When Anne first wrote down her thoughts, I’m sure she didn’t imagine that they would have such an impact on the world after the war — not to mention 76 years later!

Anne’s father, Otto Frank, once wrote to his mother, “I don’t have the strength to read them” in reference to Anne’s diary entries. Fortunately, he and his friends and relatives not only read them, but decided that they were an important human document that needed to be shared.

What began at an Amsterdam publishing house in 1947 is now available in more than 70 languages. Just think: a diary that was never intended to be shared can now provide generations to come with a poignant glimpse of Nazi Germany through the eyes of a Jewish teenager.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not suggesting that every journal entry is meant for an audience (although that’s one form of poetry slam these days) — what I’m trying to say is that while you might feel like a thought or memory you’ve written down isn’t worthy of being seen by anyone, that feeling you’ve captured may go down in history.

This brings us to a fourth “truth”: Somebody might feel less alone and understand the world we live in a little better after reading your words. Maybe they’ll even become inspired to share their own!

There’s still time to participate in The Ebbtide’s “Share Your Words” contest. Enter by Feb. 1 for a chance to see your work published on