“Who will teach me to write? a reader wanted to know. The page, the page…” Annie Dillard, The Writing Life, p. 58
Dillard tackles the terror that every writer, every painter, every artist knows: where will I find the courage to write, to paint, to dance knowing that at some level I will fail. In the passage I quote here, Dillard points her readers to the way in which the blank page points us to our death. In a fundamental sense, awareness of our dying empowers us to put the pen to the page, the ink to the canvas, the fingers to the keys. The blank page points us to our last day and so calls us to write our life. I think this is very helpful. But I think that the blank page has at least one other possibility.
The blank page also reminds us of a screen; a screen that invites our intentional projection. To project mean “to put forward.” But what will we put forward? What will we project on the screen of the blank page? What image, or images, will encourage us to write? What will inspire our ruminations? What muse will move our musings?
“Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to care for orphans and widows in their distress, and to keep oneself unstained by the world.” James 1:27
The sage James knew that religion can be a great source for both good and ill precisely because it has the ability to inspire human beings. And so James reminds his readers that those who need to be “put forward” or projected into our imagination are the least, those whom the world forgets. The blank page can become a screen upon which we can “see” those who are not seen and from which we can hear those who are not heard.
Those of us who write for life need to know whom we write for and what inspires us. James encourages us to write for those who have been wronged: to give voice to the voiceless and bring to sight those who are not seen. In Canada, over 600 Aboriginal Women have gone missing. The United Nations has expressed concern over this situation. The Native Women’s Association of Canada invites us into a moment of silence on Oct. 4 to remember the forgotten http://www.nwac.ca/media/release/22-08-12.
Here are some images that might help you when you next write what is wrong: