Some people awaken with a song on their heart, and others of us wake to a vision that must be captured. For me, those sacred moments are reserved for two things, prayer and writing. I can’t sing, so I write. It’s not at all that I like to write, but simply feel compelled. Annie Dillard and I have a lot in common, only she has the discipline and the gift to craft words to paper. She warns that the vision cannot be captured, and that, by the time the words are penned, it is only a dim and ugly replica of the splendid original inspiration. She paints words like Solomon speaks of, as apples of gold encased in silver. Each morsel is to be chewed on, and, in an attempt to grasp her vision with all the subtleties of firing a machine gun, to stir something deep within the heart of her reader. She asks in her book, The Writing Life, why she does write, why she cannot be content to just live life, and not fall into her writing, not to observe, but to participate. It’s often been a question of my own. Why would I feel such a need to comment on life when I could be out there living it? Annie Dillard writes not for her own musings, but for other writers and would-be writers to relate with a nod of their own disdain for their compulsion. It captures the irony of the writing life, the observer versus the participator, the thinker versus the doer, and the sheer abnormality of the desire to do so. So beautifully written, even if you don’t write, (and I hope you sing the song on your heart each morning instead, for it is a far better life) this book deftly exposes the writing life.
Note: Thank you, Sammie, for introducing me to Annie Dillard’s work.