I have been thinking a lot about this Thoreau quote. I seem to get something new from it every time I read it…
“My Journal is that of me which would else spill over and run to waste, gleanings from the field which in action I reap. I must not live for it but in it for the gods.
“They are my correspondents, to whom daily I send off this sheet post-paid. I am clerk in their counting-room, and at evenings transfer the account from day-book to ledger. It is as a leaf which hangs over my head in the path. I bend the twig and write my prayers on it; then letting it go, the bough springs up and shows the scrawl to heaven. As if it were not kept shut in my side; it is vellum in the pastures; it is parchment on the hills. I find it every-where as free as the leaves which troop along the lanes in autumn. The crow, the goose, the eagle carry my quill, and the wind blows the leaves as far as I go. Or; if my imagination does not soar, but gropes in slime and mud, then I write with a reed.”
It’s funny. Someone who could not write so elegant a quote is someone who could not claim to truly feel the sensation he describes, since the kind of personality that dictates a lifetime of compulsive journaling is a pre-requisite for having that type of feeling.
That’s why I read it with awe and not a little hidden envy, since I know I could never have that pure a feeling about the art of writing.
It is a great example of the commonly read but not-often followed refrain of “if you want to become a good writer, write a lot, every day.”