Written Out Loud5:52 AM
I think one of the greatest gift to man is words. Words brought life to man in a way that marked him as specially loved by God. Animals communicate, yes, but only in-the-image-of-God man uses words, words that connect him to his Creator, Who is the Word. And while I love to mess around with words just in the privacy of my pink notebook, I don’t consider that serious writing. Writing is communication. It’s meant to be shared. It’s meant to link us to God, link us to each other, bridging gaps of understanding. Words usher in life, and meaning, and thought. They are not an end in themselves; they are a means to an end, a very, very important end.
Which is why so many authors have a burning desire to be published. The fat Word document on a PC doesn’t seem altogether great unless it’s in the hands of somebody else. It’s absolutely thrilling—and terrifying—to drop control of the writing and let someone else take your words and thoughts and mingle them with her own, creating newer ideas, greater understanding, furtherance of truth. It’s like sharing a secret—you hate to do it, it’s embarrassing, but once it’s out in the open, you can breathe a sigh of relief.
That’s what words do.
(Why then were so many authors such infamous recluses who mismanaged relationships, refused to publish their works and didn’t give a fig of what became of their author-side? I haven’t the slightest idea. I hope the mark of a writing genius isn’t apathy. I’d be a very ordinary writer.)
But I’m beginning to understand—just a little bit, mind—how dangerous is the writer’s position. We’re going to give an account for every single word we say, not just the misspelled ones or the limp sentences, but everything, every little bit of it. The writer is a teacher—he’s communicating something. We can’t just write whatever we like and blame the readers if they fall for our heresy. We take square responsibility.
James said that not many of us should be teachers, because of this fact alone: they are responsible for what they say.
That terrifies me.
Especially because I’ve opined dogmatically on many subjects I later recanted. On some subjects I now believe the total opposite of what I once said, notwithstanding how eloquently I tried to put it. And I think it’s so important that writers be taught not just the proper expression of things, the turn of the words, the mechanics underpinning the whole deal, but the truth. They of all people ought to familiarize themselves with The Word, in His divine-human and written form. They ought to know how to think through issues instead of spouting out whatever comes to mind. They ought to educate themselves in the school of humility and learn to repent and beg forgiveness so that someone else doesn’t believe those mistakes they propounded.
This is why I am so passionate about writing, literature and even dry old, dear old grammar itself. So many people shrug off writing as either a thing you like or a thing you don’t, but I think it’s an absolutely imperative part of being human. Words define us. Words express us. Words unite and divide us. Most importantly, words impart truth. No person who calls himself human should ignore the opportunity to familiarize himself with the passing on of truth. Anyone with an opinion, if he honestly values that opinion, should never short himself on learning grammar, literature analysis and how to write well. Why? Because words matter. And words take on an entirely different meaning if they aren’t expressed in their fullest or are obscured by misplaced modifiers, dangling participles and bad logic. If you don’t care about your opinion, you shouldn’t say anything about it; if you cared about your opinion, you would do everything in your power to communicate it as perfectly as possible.
Whether a writer keeps a blog, writes a comment, sends a letter or types up an essay, he is not just finishing school assignments, socializing or merely “stating his opinion.” His words matter. And if we don’t wish to be responsible, we ought to say nothing.
Until then, we deal in a dangerous business.