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Small Potatoes

August 31, 2013

There is always something to do, just how does find time to tend to a blog?  And really, a blog?  To write about just what exactly?

Scarlet Letter

Fealty to responsibilities. (Or goodness knows, the world does not need another blog post.)

And so it was.  But now, when something catches my eye or perhaps a thought comes to me while I’m out running, it’s different.  No longer consumed with such a governing judgment and with topic now in hand, I write.  (When I can.)  The dispatches are varied – simply a collection of sundry accounts.  Sometimes, it’s just baseball.

Scarlet Letter (2)

Published in 1850, The Scarlet Letter is a stirring story about the assaults on a woman’s freedom and dignity by self-righteous village leaders in seventeenth century New England.

In the end, it really wasn’t that big of a deal.  “Just do it” – right?  Take care of things and then set aside a little time to write.  That’s all there is.

It’s an inconsequential task compared to the overhang Nathanael Hawthorne overcame.  Hawthorne’s forebears were Salem, Massachusetts founders and had what Hawthorne refers to “all the Puritanic traits, both good and evil.”   Puritans knew about hard work and idleness was not looked upon kindly.  As far as they were concerned, there was certainly no reason to write.  John Hathorne’s (Nathanael added the “w” to his surname) intolerance is well known; he was a lead judge in the Puritans’ infamous witch trials.  Hawthorne said that Hathorne was possessed with a “persecuting spirit” as it relates to others’ beliefs and behavior.

More than two centuries later, the shadow was still cast on this New England descendant.  He wrote about it in The Custom House, his introduction to The Scarlet Letter:

“Doubtless, however, either of these stern and black-browed Puritans would have thought it quite a sufficient retribution for his sins, that, after so long a lapse of years, the old trunk of the family tree, with so much venerable moss upon it, should have borne, as its topmost bough, an idler like myself.  No aim, that I have ever cherished, would they recognize as laudable; no success of mine – if my life, beyond its domestic scope, had ever been brightened by success – would they deem otherwise than worthless, if not positively disgraceful.  ‘What is he?’ murmurs one gray shadow of my forefathers to the other. ‘ A writer of story-books!  What kind of a business in life, – what mode of glorifying God, or being serviceable to mankind in his day and generation, – may that be?  Why, the degenerate fellow might as well been a fiddler!’  Such are the compliments banded between my great-grandsires and myself, across the gulf of time!  And yet, let them score me as they will, strong traits of their nature have intertwined themselves with mine.”

Yes, getting past any hesitancy over here is trivial in comparison.  Small potatoes.

From → Writing


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