Posts Tagged ‘writer’

Hadley and Ernest

He just keeps coming up, over and over. I’ve given in.

I edited a children’s story a friend wrote and as a thank you she sent me a gift card to Barnes and Noble. Then another friend gave me the same thing as a birthday gift. I finally made my trip there on Sunday because I knew exactly what I wanted.

Renee over at Motherhood, Music and Beer recommended I read The Paris Wife — she loved it and, well, it’s an historical novel about Ernest Hemingway’s first marriage from his wife’s, Hadley Richardson Hemingway’s, point of view. So I got that and two Hemingway books: The Old Man and the Sea because it’s really short and The Sun Also Rises because it’s about his marriage to Hadley* and thought it would be a good follow-up to The Paris Wife.

Also on Renee’s advice, I rented Woody Allen’s latest film, Midnight in Paris. In that movie, Owen Wilson’s character, Gil, is a screenplay writer on vacation in Paris with his fiancée and her parents. A lot of the movie is classic Woody. But the main plot is what made the movie for me: Gil goes for a walk through the city and sits down on some steps just as the clock strikes midnight. An old-fashioned car pulls up and several men beckon Gil to get in and ride with them. He does and the vehicle transports him to the 1920s where he meets, well, everyone who was anyone in the literary world in Paris in the 1920s, including of course Ernest Hemingway.

And so it goes and so it goes. I’m about sixty pages into The Paris Wife. So far, I’m not loving it. But reading Hemingway’s words about writing — about his writing — is eye-opening for me. I think I’m starting to understand why this man, this writer, this legend is haunting me.

*The book jacket for Paris made me think this, but turns out this is not the case. The book is about something that happened while Ernest and Hadley were married, but he left her character out altogether.


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In December 2008, I was at a very low point in my life. I went for a walk at a local park and pinned on the bulletin board was a flyer for a one-day New Year’s Day retreat for women. Included were a guided meditation and “vision-boarding.” I’d never heard of it, but decided it sounded like something that would do me some good.

That board still hangs above my desk at work, though I think it’s time to take it down. I attended the same retreat the next year, though a different person led and it wasn’t the same. I never hung that board. The following year, my friend Leslee hosted one of her own since the price had gone up and the quality of that original retreat (where I met Leslee) had gone down. I was out of town and didn’t attend either event.

This year, Leslee hosted again — as I wrote about on Wednesday. It was a renewal. I felt as energized as I did the first time, four years ago. I actually cut out so many images that I ended up with two boards and I’ve spent the last several days analyzing them.

I’ve already discussed the Ernest Hemingway phenomenon, so I won’t get into that again. But there were other interesting things about this year’s board.

The very first board I did contains, in the lower left not quite corner the question, “Where do YOU want to be?” If I remember correctly, it came from an article about travel. This year, I found exactly that question in an advertisement. I didn’t remember right away that I’d included it on my first board, but this time it went in the upper left corner, kind of a title and lead-in to everything else.

I found a lot of references to England, which is, really, exactly where I want to be. I’m very strongly drawn to that country, though I’ve never set foot in it. British accents to me just sound like the way people are supposed to talk. I adore British television shows, British books, every photograph I’ve ever seen of the British Isles causes my stomach to do flip-flops. I can’t explain it. I don’t feel that way about any other part of the world, whether I’ve been there or not. And it found its way to my board this year.

My first board has Tuscany and a lot of outer space imagery. Tuscany is beautiful (from what I can tell), but there are no stomach flip-flops.

I’ve been thinking a lot of New York City, as well. My second novel (assuming I ever write the first) is set there and I would like to live there while writing it. I found the name of that city in a magazine. It’s interesting because I like New York City, but have always said I could never live there.

I tried very hard this year to let my spirit lead me rather than just choosing images and words I liked or felt should be there. That’s difficult to do while conscious. I tried my best, though. And it seems like it worked well. I found a lot of images and words about really living life. I feel like both my boards are talking to me in a way the previous two didn’t. Still, some of the repeating themes are difficult to ignore.

Nature is a trend I see from year to year and of course books and writing and even dance appears on more than one of my vision boards. Those things are pretty obvious. Then there are the waterfalls, which are on all three of my boards and a major theme on my Pinterest page.

I find it funny, though, that I wrote a blog post last week about saying no more often in order to concentrate on achieving goals that have eluded me for too long and in one of the magazines, I found the admonishment to “just say no.”

“Whirling through the centuries” popped out at me, as the plot of my first novel (if it ever gets finished) ties strongly to that idea.

But of all the empowering and inspiring words and images I found, the most profound thing that jumped off the page and onto my board was something else, something that expressed perfectly my biggest fear, the thing that holds me back, the thought that’s always mulling around the back of my mind:

Somewhere deep inside, you think it’s a matter of time before you stumble and ‘they’ discover the truth: ‘You’re not supposed to be here.’

I write. I’m pretty good at it, I think. Sometimes I stumble across something I wrote years or months or weeks ago and it takes my breath away that it’s so good, because I know that at the time I wrote it, I didn’t think so. But deep down, I think that my first impulse was correct.

I write. But I am not a writer.

I have to fight against that.

This second collage is a little more vague and I’m not sure what I think of it, except I like how it looks. I cut out that blue couch in the lower right because the color blue seemed to be hovering around me for a few days. It wasn’t a sad blue. It was just blue.

The rest mostly symbolizes my wanderlust and love of books and cooking and general creativity. The photo in the upper left is the now famous “Hemingway Collection.”

I suppose only time will reveal if this collage is more than just a pretty picture.

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