What is it about the written word that draws us to it? What is it that makes so many of us, myself included, dedicate our entire lives to understanding it, to honing it, to refining it like never before. Why is it that, no matter how hard we try, there's just something magical about seeing things in black and white that we can never capture when just talking or even watching.
Simply put, there's just something in the permanence of the medium, something special about being able to hold the words in your hand, to touch them, to feel them, to see them and to be able to preserve them for all time that gives it an added boost, even if just a moral one. That's why we, as a society, separate libel, defaming someone in writing, from slander, doing so orally. It's that inherent "added value" that ones words get when they're put down for all eternity, a value we all understand, even if just subconsciously.
But even then we seem to fail our precious words. So many of us either can't read or simply don't use the knowledge they have, letting the written word and all of its understood power just go to waste. It's heartbreaking to me to see many people, intelligent people, scared to even pick up something as simple as a newspaper or a magazine. We have a whole society of people, too timid or too lazy to visit their library or even the vast volumes of literature on the Internet, instead favoring television, radio and other, more digestible means of entertainment.
Though the spoken word and the visual mediums are powerful in their own right, to let the written word fall by the wayside is a tragedy of the highest order. Without it, we'd have no history, without it, we'd have no unified language and, without it, we'd be hard-pressed to carry on anything like a normal life.
But more than that, the written word opens so many doors. The volumes of literature and knowledge never before converted to visual or audible media lay dormant, waiting to fill the minds of those with the heart and patience to seek it. Volumes of research is waiting for you, encyclopedias of knowledge are at your fingertips and millions upon millions of stories are waiting to be read. They're laying there, waiting for you, challenging you to read them.
And that, my friends, is why so many have shunned the written word. It is the medium of communication that challenges the receiver the most, challenges him or her to take the time to read the words, interpret their meaning, form images within their mind and draw understanding from the simple page. That, in turn, is the hidden beauty of the written word, from mere marks on a page images can be created, characters can be born and new worlds can be given life.
That's why I've never seen myself as a writer as much as I have seen myself as a painter or a creator. With words as my medium, I strive to create images, define characters, convey emotions and tell stories. As any writer will tell you, this process is more than simply placing words on a page the same as creating a work of art is more than flinging paint at a canvas.
This is why we must open ourselves to the importance of the written word, not for myself or for our children, but for the countless men and women that have come before us, meticulously creating words and ideas that were designed to leap off of the page and into our minds. The worlds they have to show us, the things they can tell us about ourselves and the projections they have on the world around us are too valuable to let slide. For them we must thrust books into the hands of children, for them we must pick up our newspapers and magazines and for them we must balance our entertainment, let ourselves be challenged and open ourselves to new ideas.
Because, in doing this for them, the artists of the written medium, we open ourselves up to so many things one can not comprehend. A universe, more vast than all of the galaxies in ours, lies sandwiched between dusty volumes of books. If we that world free, the possibilities for our own are literally limitless.
And that, my friends, is what draws me to the written word. More than the permanence, more than the tangibility and accessibility I crave to discover the lost magic, the magic of creating images from words, ideas from sentences and making something where there once was nothing. I don't know if I'm there yet, but I know I must keep trying until the ideas and characters I pen are just as alive as you and I today. Because in contributing to that dust-covered universe I hope to someday contribute to the one we live in now.
After all, it's my hope that man will eventually answer the challenge of the written word. A hope that I fear will never come to pass…