“I was damned if I would write one [novel] because it was what I should do if we were to eat regularly. When I had to write it, then it would be the only thing to do and there would be no choice. Let the pressure build. In the meantime I would write a long story about whatever I knew best.” ~ Earnest Hemingway
It’s one of those gorgeous summer days in Madison. Just a week before the change of seasons the crisp morning air and full sunshine reminds we without a doubt why I settled here to make my home. But this morning as I sit me down to write I’m struck by the irony of finding inspiration today in the high mountains of Washington state. Pressed to deliver a sample chapter of a book I aim to write I woke up this morning compelled to scribe the continuation of my experience last month on Mount Baker.
In Hemingway’s “A Moveable Feast” he explores his motivation as a writer. When I first read the book as an undergrad at Berkeley more than 20 years ago I wondered what it would be like to balance the professional pressure of deadlines and the artistic process of creativity. Now that I write for a living I have a vague inkling of it’s like to perform upon demand or risk making the mortgage. With each passing year the consequences become more real as I’m left to wonder if my experiences are worth writing about and sharing with an audience. I question whether I draw valid conclusions to the lessons I learn or if I simply sound like a self-aggrandizing douche bag.
With the arrival of an overdue freelance check a little less financial stress offers a welcome moment of clarity. I’m reminded as Hemingway learned as a young man in Paris that I must write about whatever I know best. But those experiences and lucid intervals of inspiration can only come when writers, photographers and other adventurers dare to live their lives in full, to seek whatever challenge lies over the horizon and calls into question exactly who we are. It’s in the discovery of those illusive answers where the story unfolds.
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