Faith & Truth / The English Teacher / The Social Network

The Consequence of Writing

Today I face a rather inconvenient, though merely personal, truth. The muscle mass in both my thumbs has degenerated significantly. My hands have been hurting for awhile now, but  with one thing and another… So the doc says I have a carpel tunnel problem. And he asks what I’ve been doing to myself. I tell him that 2011 was given over to long, long days of writing.  2012  has seen its share of writing hours too. The price of all that writing / typing is carpel tunnel syndrome!?!  So, while I wait for the next appointment and proposed treatments (am I to be pro or anti-surgery if the time comes?), should I keep away from the keyboard? Annie Dillard‘s words ring in my head. A writer’s work is “so meaningless, so fully for [oneself] alone, and so worthless to the world, that no one except [the writer] cares whether [it’s done] well, or ever.” Every day that I investigate the number of viewers of commonchapters, Dillard’s point hits home.  I do write for me. The world, far from being impacted by the Fieldsian ponderings, spins on, largely untouched by these words sent into the cyberair. If I were writing my own story, jazzing it up, of course, the bloggers and readers would be pacing, waiting impatiently for what I might write next. You know, sort of a lining up around the block for the next Harry Potter installment; only, in my version, they’d merely be checking their inboxes, or refreshing their readers. This (commonchapters) is nowhere near that (The Deathly Hallows). And, aren’t you glad, really? JK Rowlings has already done it, after all.  By slow degrees, my own writing might contribute to life change beyond my own. That would be nice. It would be more than nice for cryin’ out loud. Who am I kidding? While my writing could remain ‘meaningless,’ to anyone but me once I’ve sent it ‘out there,’  I’d like its meaning to matter to someone. And so, the words keep coming. The desire to write — for readers — hangs in the air. Pulses through my veins. Pushes through the sometimes white hot stabs of pain in my hands.

If pain is going to be the new normal, I suppose I’ll need to consider a new angle of consequence regarding my writing. Annie Dillard asks: “is it pertinent, is it courteous, for us to learn what [the writing] cost the writer personally?” Perhaps not, for I don’t write merely for me, but also for a reader I may never know. Does he need to know what it cost me to get the words ‘on paper’? Authorial circumstances exist. Such details add a bit of color — that’s what the ‘about’ section of the blog is for, right?  Authorial intent is another thing altogether. Postmoderns claim it can’t be known, and furthermore that it’s wholly irrelevant. The reader makes meaning. Without the reader, there is no text. Well, that’s true, isn’t it? There are novels I’ll never read. Volumes of poetry my eyes will never see. On this reader, those tomes of meaning-making will make no lasting impression. But that cannot mean that the meaning doesn’t exist. Our lives and our words matter. Even, or if only, to the writers who pen the words and seek meaning, pain-filled as that may be.

Life changes. Today, I need to make some meaning out of that. And, so do you, dear reader. So do you.





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