Today I checked out the Indiana Review because I read somewhere online that one of my favorite poets – a Filipina by the name of Conchitina R. Cruz – had been featured there a few years ago. As I was browsing the submission guidelines (because I live a rich fantasy life), I came across something that struck me. It read:
“We look for poems, stories, and nonfiction that are well-crafted and lively, have an intelligent sense of form and language, assume a degree of risk, and have consequence beyond the world of their speakers or narrators.”
Have consequence beyond the world of their speakers or narrators. Poof! I believe that is the accepted sound effect of a fantasy bubble bursting.
I don’t think of my writings as having any consequence beyond my own world. Why should they? I write in my world, wage battles with my demons (which I admittedly am quite fond of, them being selfishly mine and sometimes the only company I keep) in my world, and yes, even that rich fantasy life of mine is entirely grounded in my world, or the one I create in my head. Which still belongs to my world.
I have my moments of larger consciousness, but I have this nagging feeling that it isn’t truly a venture beyond. Likely, it’s simply a result of my personal world expanding, stretching to accommodate new ideas, life-shifting revelations. Perhaps it’s just the slack created after having exerted so much tension expelling what no longer serves me. The way a rubber band never returns to its original size after an afternoon of “whoever has the least number of welts wins.” (Okay, so that’s not really a game, but it could be.)
I say to myself that the only way my writings will have consequence beyond my world is if somehow, there is someone out there on a similar journey, whose world closely matches mine, or at least shares a more-than-incidental bond. Maybe my demons have cousins or old college roommates somewhere, co-majors in Fair Fight Pretense 101, holding their power in check as an act of mercy toward that kindred soul.
I guess the trick would be to find a way to make my words reach that other not-so-doppelganger-but-close-enough person. Maybe something of mine will stretch the elastic borders of their world. Whether or not I find out about it should be secondary; the consequence is no longer in my control.
Perhaps that is why many people blog. Not just to document their lives, or show off their language skills. Maybe, in some way, we are trying to let our words reach the widest audience possible, increasing our chances of touching someone else’s world. Maybe this is our method of affirming our uniqueness while seeking a degree of sameness with another soul. Or maybe just the possibility of having consequence beyond our world is enough comfort, enough tangential company in an otherwise solitary existence.
“Aloneness is a state of being, whereas loneliness is a state of feeling. It’s like the difference between being broke and being poor.”
Townes Van Zandt
I thought that perhaps I write to purge my mouth of the words I cannot say out loud, to make sure they don’t just echo back to me across an emtpy space and confirm the suspicion that there is no one else out there. But maybe I just write to disperse the loneliness I feel, to create words that keep me company. Maybe that’s all it is.