14: Faith, excitement, and secrecy.

- November 6, 2016 -

It was many years ago now that I first came upon what has since become a favourite quotation of mine: “Where you invest your love, you invest your life.”

Whenever I manage to keep this simple piece of advice in mind, it feels as though my path is so clearly laid bare for me.

The challenge, of course, is keeping it in mind.

. . .

In a 1994 interview with The Paris Review, Canadian writer Alice Munro does a wonderful job of illuminating the writing process:

“It isn’t just ideas you need, and it isn’t just technique or skill,” she explains. “There’s a kind of excitement and faith that I can’t work without.”

This, perhaps, is why failure is so disruptive: it takes away both our excitement and our faith, leaving us with a skill set which, without those two ingredients, seems incomplete.

. . .

Ernest Hemingway, in his posthumously published memoir, A Moveable Feast, describes what is becoming an increasingly common experience: being so profoundly affected by something that we are unable to express just precisely what it is that we have gained from it.

“I was learning something from the painting of Cézanne,” he writes. “I was learning very much from him but I was not articulate enough to explain it to anyone.”

How curious it is that even Hemingway, a man known for his clarity of expression, was unable to articulate this phenomenon.

What is most intriguing, however, is what comes next: “Besides,” he adds, “it was a secret.”

Perhaps the reason why we so struggle to put into words the things which move us is because those things are meant to be a secret: they are meant, in some small way, to be only for us.


With faith and excitement,
– J


This piece comes from Jana Marie’s newsletter, The Sunday Letters. You can sign up to receive future editions below.