What do bananas have to do with writers’ fears?

What do bananas have to do with a writer’s unreasonable fear of repetition?
I am going to be posting some quotes I get from “Advice For Writers” which I find useful and helpful. This one is especially funny since I spent six months in Guatemala and all over Honduras some years back during the United Fruit Company fiasco. Ironically, many years before, I had dated a fellow from Harvard while I was going to GW who would write a well-respected book about that whole banana thing. While living on my sailboat in the Sea of Cortez, I met an American who had established a fantastic plantation of a zillion varieties of bananas from all over the world. As all the plants had grown up and were producing these gorgeous specimens, he suddenly said he had “found Jesus” and started spending all his time going around the Baja with his Bible. I felt so sorry for the fruit that was dropping to the ground that I told him I would sell it for him and not take any commission. Each week, I would go out to his banana plantation and collect big arms of ripe bananas then return to my boat and hang a big arm of bananas from my boom. I’d get on the radio and announce, “Chiquita Banana here. We have some splendid arms of bananas for sale, fresh from the plantation. And do we have a good deal for you!” It didn’t take long before I was known as the Carmen Miranda of the Sea. Boaters loved the bananas and sometimes, if there were just too many to sell, I gave them away. But at least they didn’t lie rotting on the ground and the Universe who provided all those lovely bananas was happy.To this day, I still love bananas!

Here’s todays Advice For Writers:
Have no unreasonable fear of repetition. True, the repetition of a particular word several times in the same paragraph can strike a jarring note, but ordinarily the problem arises differently. The story is told of a feature writer who was doing a piece on the United Fruit Company. He spoke of bananas once; he spoke of bananas twice; he spoke of bananas yet a third time, and now he was desperate. “The world’s leading shippers of the elongated yellow fruit,” he wrote. A fourth banana would have been better.

JAMES J. KILPATRICK

Sérenta (in foreground) on anchor in the Sea of Cortez
Sérenta (in foreground) on anchor in the Sea of Cortez

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