Tag: etty hillesum

Dear Writer with Frustration, Inspiration, & Passion

Dear writer,

I’m with you. Like you I’m waiting for my breakthrough.

Out of frustration and out of inspiration I write here.

First, because even when literary journals or magazines have rejected my works, I refuse to believe that my writing isn’t worth publishing. Second, because Etty Hillesum, a not-so-well-known writer died too young and with her died her dream of becoming an established author. (Eight of her diaries were published in one book, but that doesn’t mean that’s all the writing she had to offer the world.)

I can’t let others write my story. Not anymore. To be honest, I don’t even know that my story is being told.

It has become too dangerous to wait until literary journals or magazines give my work approval. I can assure you that my story like your story is the story someone else is looking for right at this moment.

Lately, I’ve been writing with a combination of more urgency, more purpose, and more transparency.

One Lesson from Etty Hillesum’s Diaries

 

It never ceases to amaze me how I continue to learn from dead people who are not blood related.

Etty_Hillesum_1939

While reading Etty Hillesum’s diaries which were written from 1941 to 1943, I found myself dog earring pages where I found quotes applicable to my life. One of the things that amazes me about Etty is that she found peace, joy, and the beauty of life despite the oppression around her. She was a Dutch Jew living in Amsterdam during the Nazi occupation, but she never let suffering take hold of her life.

Just like Etty, I have learned how to make much with little. Like her, I feel gratitude for the simplest things: a cup of coffee, a book or a muffin. Even though this is the only book the world will have written by her, (how much I wish she could have lived longer and written more diaries or books), I have found numerous lessons in this collection of her eight diaries.

In one entry she writes, “The rottenness of others is in us, too…I really see no other solution than to turn inward and to root out all the rottenness there. I no longer believe that we can change anything in the world until we have first changed ourselves. And that seems to me the only lesson to be learned from this war. That we must look into ourselves and nowhere else.”