The Soothing Sweetness of the Morning

Gathering Ideas and Images for the Day

Ernest Hemingway was dedicated to the proposition that each day should be rewarding in some way.

A. E. Hotchner (friend)

Yesterday witnessed a full day of painting at this dining room table, the enthusiasm fueled mostly by a pair of Youtube documentaries on the life of Ernest Hemingway. As a biography addict, I am thinking of reading for a second time in its entirety the Hemingway biography by the late Princeton Professor Carlos Baker. I have not read enough of Hemingway, only his Moveable Feast (twice), The Sun Also Rises and about a dozen of his short stories, my favorite “Big Two-Hearted River” Part Two.

As I’ve shared before, my inspiration to make art is fueled mostly by the works of famous artists and writers. And I am just as much an addict of their biographies as I am their primary sources. Yesterday my attention was split between painting and reading Emile Zola’s The Masterpiece. The book called to memory a myriad of details of the life and work of Paul Cezanne. While painting, I let the laptop fill my ears with details on the life of Hemingway.

Hemingway’s life inspires and saddens me simultaneously. I’m inspired by his drive to write, every morning at 5:00 until noon, and no, there was not a bottle of scotch at his table during these sacred hours. That always came later, unfortunately. As a former English teacher, I frequently told my students I would fail them if they turned in short stories with the spare vanilla sentences Hemingway was known for using. I never could explain to students or friends why I liked reading him, because those sentences alone certainly did not inspire me, though I’m always intrigued by his testimony that “all you have to do is write one true sentence. Write the truest sentence that you know.”

I am deeply saddened that this decorated writer who lived life to the fullest did not live to be as old as we expect to live these days. Already at age sixty-six, I have outlived him by five years. What saddens me even more was his state of mind when he decided to take his life. Electric shock treatments for his depression rendered him incapable of writing. It has been said that he would sit at his writing table and nothing would happen. I don’t know how I would handle it if the day came when I could no longer record my thoughts in writing or express myself with a painting.

After all these years, mornings are still sacred to me. Currently house sitting, I’m glad that the five dogs are currently in the backyard where I can see them from this dining room window running wildly all over the property, burning off the fuel they consumed from their bowls a few moments ago. With the house quiet, I can now turn the spiggot with the push of a button on my ballpoint pen and watch my thoughts flow out onto the pages of my journal. Even if the words are no good, at least I still have living thoughts and energizing ideas that give me assurance that another good day can be lived. I just feel sad for anyone who has lost that feeling as well as for those who never know it.

Thanks for reading.

I make art in order to discover.

I journal when I feel alone.

I blog to remind myself I am not alone.

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4 Responses to “The Soothing Sweetness of the Morning”

  1. Frank Hudson Says:

    I’m intrigued by your comment about once promising to downgrade students who emulated Hemingway’s sentences. I cared less for them as a young man myself.

    I think that extreme sparceness in early Hemmingway was part of the English Modernist revolution. When as part of my current Project I started looking at the initial English Modernist poetic works, influenced by T. E. Hulme and Pound’s apprehension of classical Chinese poets, I was surprised at how simple their diction was, how straightforward their imagery could be at the first layer.

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    • davidtripp Says:

      I love your observations, thank you. I recently bought a first edition of Pound’s Cantos and have intended to get into him more. I love the biographical details of his life and aspirations, and still linger over his challenge to his peers to “make it new.” I’ll never be able to explain exactly what it is that makes me love reading Hemingway. Again, biographical details of his life drive my imagination. Nevetheless when I led my high school English students to read his short stories, we would laugh at sentences from “Big Two-Hearted River”—“Nick was excited.” “That was a trout.” “He had never seen so big a trout.” But wow, I still read this story, at least once a year, and I FEEL the experience. And I say the same when reading chunks of “The Sun Also Rises.” Aside from his simple declarative sentences, he somehow creates a scene that I feel deeply. I just ordered another book off Amazon by Carlos Baker. Just can’t get enough of this writer . . .

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  2. Dian Darr Says:

    I love Hemingway because of the realism that pours from the words. I used to have my composition students take a passage from some of our great writers and analysis the sentence structure. They were always surprised at Hemingway’s sentences which might be four words followed by a sentence with 20 words. I guess I always loved the variety he offers us especially since his words always came from deep within him.

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    • davidtripp Says:

      Dian, thank you for writing that. I keep thinking that while journaling in the mornings I will take more seriously that notion of writing just one true, simple sentence. Occasionally I feel that it has taken hold, and then I find myself relapsing into the same old writing habits. I’ll keep trying …

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