Tuesday, October 27, 2009


Years ago, I read somewhere that writers in medieval times sometimes did not sign their writings, because they believed God had actually written them – and I’ve always found a grain of good sense in that approach to authorship. I’m not a religious person in the traditional sense (I don’t believe in the conventional God who rewards some and punishes others), but I do have great respect for the immeasurable force (whatever name it might be given) that surrounds and saturates this universe of which we writers are a part. When my students write, words somehow come to rest in their essays, but how this happens is a wide-ranging mystery. To take the easy path and say the students’ brains create the words is like saying clouds create rain. The origins of every raindrop go infinitely far back to the origins of the entire universe, and the origins of the words in the students’ essays are every bit as shrouded in vastness and timelessness. It’s convenient for the students to put their names on their papers, just as it would be convenient to say the bulb creates the light in my desk lamp, even though a force far more immense and ancient than a student or a light bulb actually does the creating.

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