I collect sentences.
Yes I know it's a little quirky, but it's also magical.
I collect sentences.
The best ones are ones that you can live in. They are ones in which the story is both contained on the page and yet somehow bleed out poetically into your world.
The best remind me of the moments in which as a child I used to put on my dad's shoes. My tiny feet in those big, long, clumsy shoes. I would walk around pretending.
I would wonder about this man, my father, and all the things I didn't know. And then years later as I would grow up, I would realize that he had a life of his own. He had already lived many lives that didn't involve me.
My favorite sentences are sentences you try on. Sentences that have lives of their own. Sentences that make you know things you can't explain and explain things you could never know.
See if you can try this sentence on:
And when the men kissed the women good night, and their weekend whiskers scratched the women's cheeks, the women did not think shave, they thought stay.”
This sentence is from Amy Hempel my sentence goddess. I've written about her before.
Her sentences are alive in ways I can't describe. They are electrical charges I feel every time I come across them.
Jhumpa Lahiri my other sentence goddess is much the same way. And like me she is obsessed with sentences:
Plenty [sentences] do the job of conveying information, rousing suspense, painting characters, enabling them to speak. But only certain sentences breathe and shift about, like live matter in soil. The first sentence of a book is a handshake, perhaps an embrace. Style and personality are irrelevant. They can be formal or casual. They can be tall or short or fat or thin. They can obey the rules or break them. But they need to contain a charge. A live current, which shocks and illuminates. - Jhumpa Lahiri, My Life's Sentences
As I think about Jhumpa's comments about sentences and reflect on the sentences I love... I can't help but thinking a very cliche thought:
Reading is a remarkable thing isn't it?
Reading is the ultimate love affair.
Collecting bits of written work is like holding on to the objects that remind you of long lost loves.
We live in an age of abundance. We have news flying towards us faster than we can consume it. We are behind on TV Shows, have too many books on our to-read lists and among the hundreds of unread emails in our inbox are newsletters we've subscribed to and then promptly forgotten.
In a world where information is like a raging river, it feels good to be a sentence collector. When I collect a sentence, it feels as if I've captured something beautiful and true that I have a unique relationship to. It resonated with me and thus it must have meaning.
When I collect sentences, I am aware that I am choosing a sentence.
But I am also aware that in some weird magical way the sentence has chosen me.
I'm not sure how or why I've found my way to your inbox.
But recently, I started re-designing and re-thinking what my newsletter and online writing career is going to look like.
I am closely approaching the one year mark of writing this newsletter which is a crazy thing to think about.
So I wanted to say this:
Our love affair may have just started recently. Or it may have been there since the very beginning. It may last for many many more newsletters. Or it may not last much longer than this one. But, regardless, I want to point out how beautiful it is that I've chosen you and you've chosen me.
Choosing to let a writer hypnotize you is choosing to let yourself be sculpted by another. That is baffling and beautiful in equal parts.
As the writer in question, I feel the full weight enormous privilege and responsibility you've entrusted to me. It's the greatest gift.