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Sunday, November 12, 2017

Getting the right word in the right place

“There was never yet an uninteresting life. Such a thing is an impossibility. Inside of the dullest exterior there is a drama, a comedy, and a tragedy.   (As writers) We recognize that there are no trivial occurrences in life if we get the right focus on them.” – Mark Twain

 When I was a kid I found myself mesmerized by Mark Twain’s writing.  I clearly could become Tom Sawyer or Huck Finn or any of the other characters he brought to life.  I wished not only to be them but to be in the places in which they were living, and when I opened one of his books I was immediately transported from my South Dakota farm to the streets of Hannibal, Missouri or onto the Mississippi River.

Born Samuel Langhorne Clemens on a November day in 1835 just after a visit by Halley’s Comet, he famously predicted he would "go out with it" too.  He died one day following the comet's subsequent return in 1910.   
                                   Nobel winner William Faulkner called Twain the father of American literature, and he’s been lauded as one of America's greatest humorists.  Our nation's annual lifetime award to those who bring laughter and light to our lives is given in his name.   Despite some controversy about things he said or wrote, there’s little doubt that he brought words to life through his vivid writing.  In a letter to another author, he once wrote:

“To get the right word in the right place is a rare achievement. To condense the diffused light of a page of thought into the luminous flash of a single sentence, is worthy to rank as a prize composition just by itself . . . Anybody can have ideas - the difficulty is to express them without squandering a quire of paper on an idea that ought to be reduced to one glittering paragraph.”

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