The other day we looked at the practice of lugging a pail for many many miles o’er the fields. I ought to have said o’er the fields and hills. Lugging a pail up and down hills is, of course, more strenuous that lugging it over comparatively flat fields, but one should not shy away from such exertion. It is character-building, if exhausting.
The hills were not the only thing I failed to mention earlier. I did not say with what the pail was filled, although I was careful to note that it was filled, via a tap, from a vat, implying that the contents of the pail was liquid in form. I also neglected to say anything whatsoever about where the pail was being lugged to, across those fields (and, as of today, hills). Obviously, were you the lugger of the pail, you would want to know where you were going, and to be able to identify your destination so that you knew you had reached it, when you reached it.
My failure to mention these significant matters is in some ways akin to a piece of prose that begins, and proceeds, without any clear idea of its eventual ending. The danger there is that the passage of prose might just peter out, fruitlessly and pointlessly, thus frustrating the reader and laying the writer open to charges of rigmarole and fol-de-rol. Some writers would not bat an eyelid to be so accused, but some would, and they might even weep or quake, or weep and quake. If you have ever seen a weeping and quaking writer you will know what an awful spectacle it presents, one you will want to banish from your mind as quickly as possible.
We need not bother our heads about the frustrated reader, however, because they are two a penny. Readers become frustrated all the time, by all sorts of infelicities and annoyances and crimes committed by writers. But the frustrated reader is always in a position to toss aside, contemptuously, the frustrating reading matter, and to read something else, or not to read anything at all, for a while. Let us shed no tears, then, for the reader, who can pick and choose among literally millions of things to read, or probably billions, the lucky pups.
In our analogy the reader is lugging a pail o’er the fields and hills without any clear idea where they are going. Well, quite frankly, who gives a damn where they are going? They have picked up the pail and they are lugging it, with all their strength, panting and perspiring, close to collapse, but pressing on, ever on, with no end in sight, because that is how it is, in the world of belles-lettres pail lugging, daddy-o.