Five-Minute Betterment: “There is no greatness where there is no simplicity, goodness, and truth.” – Leo Tolstoy

If you didn’t know already, I really enjoy writing.  I have always gotten enjoyment out of transforming raw materials into something greater than the sum of the parts.  I like to turn sounds into music; I like to turn food into meals; I like to turn ideas into thoughts and written words.  I like to read and learn about a lot of different subjects because so many things are intertwined within other aspects of existence.  When we talk about a certain musical style or piece in my classes, I always make sure to include the social, historical, and even geographical or mathematical factors that played into that music’s creation.  I like the folk rock of the 1960s because there was so much more to it than just the music.  We suffer today, I think, because there isn’t that full-blown sense of revolution in the air like there was fifty years ago.  Or maybe there is, it’s just different because the conflict is so ingrained in our daily lives that we can’t identify the patterns and analyze it properly.  The world has paradoxically expanded and shrunk and we are still working on adjusting our perspective on everything.  We could use some substantive simplicity in our lives.

Not simple-mindedness.

Skeletal but structural.

Boil it all down to the bones.

Today’s FMB is writing a haiku.  The beauty of the haiku is that you have to take this grand idea and fit it into this particular framework:  5-syllable line, 7-syllable line, 5-syllable line.  You can reference whatever in your haiku but you are neither encouraged nor obligated to expand on it.  It is simple, but it is meaningful.  I’ve dabbled in poetry (my friend and I even have a poetry manuscript lying the bookshelf waiting to get published) and I enjoy it immensely.  I like the freedom you have to say however much you want to say about something without having to really give it too much structure.  One of my favorite haiku-type pieces was written by J. D. Salinger’s character Seymour Glass shortly before he killed himself.  It is as follows:

The little girl on the plane

Who turned her doll’s head around

To look at me.

It is the perfect example of the enigma that can shroud a small collection of words and generate speculation between both fellow characters and readers alike.

There is another piece that I would like to mention that is also shrouded in some mystery, not only because of the story itself but because of the story of how the story came to be.  It is said that Ernest Hemingway was challenged to write a story with a beginning, a middle and an end that was only six words long.  It is also said that he responded thusly in the style of a classified ad: “For sale: baby shoes, never worn.”  Whether or not it happened when and where and how it is said to have happened, this packs quite a wallop for only being six words long.  You can imagine any number of scenarios that would have led the owner of the baby shoes to have acquired them and then to have felt compelled to dispose of them.  I will save this discussion, and the discussion of Seymour’s suicide for a later date, and I will leave you simply with a challenge.  Write a little something.  Make it meaningful, but make it simple.  It may help to clear up or organize some stray thoughts or just get rid of them altogether.  Either way, I think it will be good for you.



P. S. – Computers are cool and everything, but I like the feel of pen and paper I like to be able to scratch things out or make doodles and whatnot.  So I used to and am starting once more to carry around a notebook.  I have two, but the one I carry now is a Picadilly notebook that has graph paper instead of lined or black pages.  It like the graph paper a lot for blocking my letter and spacing things out.  I also used it to plan the furniture layout in our old apartment which came in really handy.  Anyway, it helps to have something around that you can put ideas into so they don’t get lost indefinitely.


2 thoughts on “Five-Minute Betterment: “There is no greatness where there is no simplicity, goodness, and truth.” – Leo Tolstoy

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s