February 20, 2013

What is writing?

Writing is a magical thing. It's both telepathy—transmission of ideas, thoughts, and images, from my mind to yours—and a form of time travel, as I am transmitting those ideas, thoughts, and images to you through time. Of course, any art form could be described this way—but I feel that the written word is the purest example. Perhaps I'm biased, but as a writer I'd like to focus on writing.

My name is Brad Merrill. I'm writing this at the desk in my bedroom on a cold night in February of 2013. You're reading this not only in a different location, but somewhere down the timeline from me as well. Hence, you and I are about to engage in telepathic time travel. Pay close attention, and notice I have nothing hidden up my sleeves.

Look—here's a wide open field on a warm June evening. Each blade of grass is as green as the next, all extending infinitely into the lowering sun, which has just met the horizon. The clouds, darkening in the sunset, join perfectly in the sky to form the numeral 4.

Did we see the same thing? We'd have to discuss and compare notes to be sure, but I think we did. You may have seen a bright yellow sunset, while I imagined an orange one. The grass, to you, may have appeared lime, though I intended on olive drab (the color blind, of course, would have seen shades of light-gray). Perhaps you populated the field with a rabbit or some birds, and that's fine—my field is your field, so knock yourself out.

What about the number in the sky? There's no misinterpretation here—it's not a seven, not a three. It's a four. I didn't tell you that, and you didn't have to ask. My lips never moved. Neither, most likely, did yours. We're not even in the same time together, let alone the same room. Except we are together. We're very close.

I sent you a sunset, a grassy field, and clouds forming a four. You got all of those things, especially the four. The two of us just performed telepathy—I was the transmitter, and you were the receiver. No mythological shit—real telepathy, and time travel too. That, my friend, is the art of writing.

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