all my life

21 01 2010

All my life I’ve looked at words as though I were seeing them for the first time.

-Ernest Hemingway

I don’t think it is any secret that I am obsessed with the Lost Generation (the expatriates of the 1920s), explained here:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lost_Generation

I have been reading their works for years and I have come to appreciate them more and more as my exposure has grown. One of my favorites is Hemingway…he just resonates with me on a deep level that confounds me because I don’t always love his work on first reading. Hemingway is not a writer I instantly fell in love with…I had to work at loving him by building a knowledge base, a level of exposure to his work and his frame of mind (but who really gets in there?) as well as an ability to step away from my expectations as a reader and go with where he is leading me.

This quote rekindled my desire to look at writing with wondering eyes because there is so much beauty in the written and spoken word…but the unconscious act of speaking, writing and reading on a daily basis has taken away a lot of that wonder for me. I find myself doing these tasks by rote rather than marveling at the beauty of the word.

Hemingway wrote in such a way as to clear the minds of his readers of all the superfluous and bring them to the bare bones of their existence and that inspires me. His writing is so minimalist…and I love that. It doesn’t come naturally to most writers, that minimalism…it has to be crafted, pared down so each word serves a purpose and all of the extra has been burned away. I love that Hemingway commits himself to seeing words in a new light with each day. This kind of commitment is one of the reasons that he is a great writer, and a classic, and a genius.

I commit myself to following in his great footsteps (with nary a thought of ever coming close to filling them) in the hopes of seeing words in a new light every day and rejoicing in their glory as I tumble a turn of phrase, a colloquialism, a nicely crafted metaphor or some frolicking alliteration across my mind’s eye.

Challenge yourself to see the beauty in the words you use every day to communicate, to emote, to reflect. Challenge yourself to look at words with new eyes as each day approaches.


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