“The moment one gives close attention to anything, even a blade of grass, it becomes a mysterious, awesome, indescribably magnificent world unto itself.”
As soon as I read this, I thought of us. As writers, this is one of our biggest jobs and greatest joys, to pay “close attention” to everything around us: people, ideas, the earth. The Talmud says that, “Every blade of grass has its Angel that bends over and whispers, “Grow, Grow.” We are like those Angels, seeing and tending to those blades of grass and telling everyone the news about them. As scribes, we have the privilege of bringing so many gifts to the world!
We’re observers: We see what others miss. We take notice of things, experiences, and feelings other people may be too busy or too afraid to call attention to. The things that others pass by. We give them our attention, our time and creativity, and they grow into stories that we can share and dare to dream about. We write A Tale of Two Cities, and The Good Earth, and For Whom the Bell Tolls.
We’re rescuers: We find the people and events that are lost in history: The ones that are buried in footnotes and archives. We brush them off and breathe life into them life again and bring them out into the world so it can learn and be amazed. We make Seabiscuit run again and The Boys in the Boat row again in the 1936 Olympics. We whisper, “Grow, Grow” and they come alive.
We’re light-bringers: We go into the darkness and the chaos and we weave stories and meaning out of them. We’re the ones of whom Erica Jong said, “Everyone has a talent. What is rare is the courage to follow the talent to the dark places where it leads.” We’re the ones who wrestle with Beowolf and Voldemort, and share the pain of Medea.
We’re magicians: We take a glance, an image, a chance conversation overheard, a brief news item — a frail, tiny seed and nurture them. We pour our time and attention on them until they grow and blossom into stories and novels that touch the heart and challenge the mind. We create An American Tragedy from a newspaper clip, Jekyll and Hyde from a dream, and The Hobbit and The Lord of the Ring series from forgotten myths.
So let’s celebrate ourselves today. Let’s remember all the gifts we have to bring to the world and bring them to the page. Let’s pay close attention and write on!