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One Page at a Time: Nothing New Under the Sun

“ALL OUR BEST MATERIAL HAS ALREADY BEEN COVERED BY WONDERFUL WRITERS. IF WE LET THAT STOP US, NOTHING NEW WOULD EVER GET WRITTEN.” Barbara Ambercrombie, as quoted in A Year of Writing Dangerously

“Everything has been said; but not everything has been said superbly, and even if it has been, everything must be said freshly, over and over.” Paul Horgan, as quoted in A Year of Writing Dangerously

I came across these quotations in my daily reading a few weeks ago. I heard these sentiments over and over in my college writing classes. They are not new ideas. The goal of all writing is to make the old new. No wonder the newness of a blank page evokes such fear. Writers know the impossibility of the task. In fact, so impossible is this task, that the original idea–whether known or unknown to Ambercrombie and Horgan–comes from the God-inspired wisdom of Solomon.

Ecclesiastes 1:9: NIV
What has been will be again,
    what has been done will be done again;
    there is nothing new under the sun.

Ernest Hemingway also quoted from portions of Ecclesiastes (1:4-7) at the beginning of The Sun Also Rises. Most likely the title was inspired by verse five: “The sun also ariseth, and the sun goeth down, and hasteth to his place where he arose.” Read Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 and the melody of a song by The Byrds comes to mind, possibly lingering for the rest of the day.

Writers be warned as you read the following passage because you may never pick up your pen or turn on your computer again!

Ecclesiastes 1:2-3 NIV

“Meaningless! Meaningless!”
    says the Teacher.
“Utterly meaningless!
    Everything is meaningless.”

What do people gain from all their labors
    at which they toil under the sun?

Find solace in these words from Ecclesiastes 3:9-13 NIV.

What do workers gain from their toil? I have seen the burden God has laid on the human race. He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end. I know that there is nothing better for people than to be happy and to do good while they live. That each of them may eat and drink, and find satisfaction in all their toil—this is the gift of God.

Now, adding the meaning of the original idiom, write on!

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