Friday, April 26, 2013

Write the truest sentence you know

I saw this Hemingway quote on Pinterest and I keep thinking about it: "write the truest sentence you know" - what a challenge! And pressure! yeah, it's just a sentence. But the truest sentence, wow.

Sometimes when I'm faced with a challenge that demands the very best of me, the very truest of me, I freeze up and can't do anything at all. But then I get angry at myself for not trying, for letting the perfectionist in me keep me from making an attempt.

A few weeks ago I dug out my old journal from my senior year of high school, because for some reason or other, that year was the very best of all my years of journaling. There were other times when I poured my heart on pages because it was cathartic: I'd been through something upsetting and I was trying to process it. But this year wasn't like that. This was a year of freedom and discovery - I sort of came out of my shell. I started to the see the world around me instead of just the immediate trappings of teenage life. Whatever triggered this (maybe it was just part of growing up), I was in love with life, and with writing, and the words poured out.

So sometimes when I feel down and out about my writing, uninspired or discouraged that I can't write *real* stuff, *true* stuff, stuff that will *mean* something to other people, then I go back and re-read my senior year journal and remember that glorious feeling of free and unfettered expression. I'm not saying it was good writing, but it was true writing.

My dog is finally off her leash, and she charges up the hill full speed, a streak of golden light, lifting my heart in her wake.

So there. There is at least one true sentence: based on reading my senior year journals. But even now (not admitting how many years later) (and I don't even currently own a dog), I remember so clearly that feeling, that moment the leash came off, and not just one but two spirits leapt free.


  1. Powerful. Both the quote and your image of two free spirits being freed.

  2. I really adore this post, Margo. When we grow older, so much "stuff" gets into our head that we forget what it's like to abandon that inner critic and just write and experience life in all its wonder. I need to do this more. :)
    Have a lovely weekend!

  3. Stina LindenblattApril 26, 2013 at 5:28 PM

    This is a great point. We're trying too hard to write the perfect sentence, because we want to be published. The pressure is stifling our abilities. Begone thy pressure!

  4. I felt a shiver of memory reading this, memory of my own teenage self, explodey with words and dreams, pouring everything out into my diary, my inner critic mercifully silent. There has to be a way to recapture that exuberance and freedom--and I'm going to find it!

  5. Your first thought was the same as mine: so much pressure! But I love your truest sentence, and the story of how you rediscovered it by reading old journals. It makes me wish (again) that I was/had been better about keeping a journal.



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