Have you noticed hardly anyone pays attention anymore?
So many conversations resemble narcissists passing in the park, each chatting so busily about themselves they don’t notice the other isn’t listening. And the dialogues that consist of periodically posting links on Facebook to “Check out my latest blog".
It's the writer’s job to pay attention. But today anybody can be a writer. Anybody with a computer, internet hook-up and some tech knowledge can post a blog. Anyone with the gumption and money can self-publish a book. With the explosion of information on the web, we don’t even have to think for ourselves. We can cut and paste other people’s arguments and opinions into e-mails and send them to all our friends and relatives. None of this requires paying attention.
Good writing requires not only paying attention, but the time and facility to step back from what we see and hear to get a bigger picture. We need the patience to wait for corollaries to appear and the courage to also pay attention with the inner eye. For it is the synthesis of the world without and the world within that gives our words the weight of truth.
We can be blinded by busyness, deafened by the minutia of a day’s distractions. If we keep moving fast enough we can outrun the demons. If we have enough difficulties to worry about, we needn’t pay attention to the simple, the beautiful, or that which we know to be real and true, but can approximate only through story.
It’s a noble journey to pay attention, a great trust to name oneself a writer.