In my perusal of the dictionary a while ago, it occurred to me that the act of writing could be fit into most meanings of the word “render.” With the aid of an online dictionary, allow me to make my case so you may render your verdict.
Render, rendered, rendering
1a : to melt down <render suet>; also : to extract by melting <render lard>
This is a great metaphor for the way I tend to write. Place a large quantity of information in my mental pot, turn on low heat, and stir. Hopefully, it eventually cooks down to something useful. A synthesis is reached and can be poured out upon the paper.
b : to treat so as to convert into industrial fats and oils or fertilizer
Alas, sometimes the act of writing feels like this. Especially when working toward a very tightly prescribed form. I’m thinking particularly of writing performance evaluations within the military. Industrial fats and fertilizer, indeed.
2a : to transmit to another : deliver
If writing fails to do this, then it is not good writing. Writing has to make clear to another what you mean.
b : give up, yield
Occasionally — when the muse perches upon your desk and inspiration explodes forth — writing feels like this. The prime consideration is to get out of the way as much as possible and let it flow forth.
c : to furnish for consideration, approval, or information: as (1) : to hand down (a legal judgment) (2) : to agree on and report (a verdict)
This is perhaps the most obvious place where “render” fits with the act of writing. All three of these are often done in writing or recorded by it.
3a : to give in return or retribution
There are some class assignments I have written in a spirit of retribution. And there are some things I have written trying to capture deep gratitude to God.
b (1) : give back, restore (2) : reflect, echo
Since a fair amount of my writing is inspired or in honor of the early church fathers and their thoughts and writing, this is accurate. I am attempting to restore their thought to our modern thought. I seek to echo and reflect what they wrote.
c : to give in acknowledgment of dependence or obligation : pay
I’m not sure I’ve ever had an original idea. (I’m not sure there are any left in this world.) I acknowledge those who have gone before and try to pay it forward by bringing those thoughts to others.
d : to do (a service) for another
All writing is at least potentially a service for another. The act of writing something makes it accessible to someone else. It may be a blog thousands read or a journal only discovered after the author dies, but writing captures those thoughts for another.
4a (1) : to cause to be or become : make <enough rainfall … to render irrigation unnecessary — P. E. James> <rendered him helpless> (2) : impart
The word, the phrase, the sentence, the paragraph, are all constructed (1) in order that a thought, idea, feeling, or image may be passed from me to you (2).
b (1) : to reproduce or represent by artistic or verbal means : depict (2) : to give a performance of (3) : to produce a copy or version of <the documents are rendered in the original French> (4) : to execute the motions of <render a salute>
I’m not sure I’d describe myself as artistic, but I do hope I depict what I set about to. It is a performance of sorts, but again, there is not much room for originality since we are all copying, knowingly or unknowingly. Some days, it is an act of will, to sit down and go through the motions of getting to 500.
c : translate
I don’t have the linguistic skills to do proper translation from one language to another, but perhaps I do translate from one medium to another. From old, translated manuscript to this shiny medium of blog.
5: to direct the execution of : administer <render justice>
Since some of what I write is instructional, this is fair. “This is how you should proceed.”
6: to apply a coat of plaster or cement directly to
I hope I avoid plastering, but maybe, by the grace of God, occasionally something I write is cemented directly to my reader. I have had that experience while reading.
: to give recompense
Much I have written on these pages and elsewhere is a payment or a return in kind to something someone else has said or written, and many of my sources of this variety are unattributed.