Today is the first day I've written since one week ago yesterday. After a surprise appendectomy late Good Friday, it seemed all was well. And I suppose it was, but Tuesday, a week ago today, things took a turn for the worse and I was back in the hospital with cholitis. Not a good choice. Not a choice at all, really.
That Tuesday, Wednesday, and most of Thursday, I did nothing but sleep. Then Thursday I opened my reader to Hemingway's A Moveable Feast. I've never been a big fan of his writing style, however this autobiography of his time in Paris in the early 1920s is wonderful. There are still the passages of dialogue full of he-saids and she-saids, but this particular work is filled with the sights and sounds and lives of people in Paris during the post-WWI era.
Ernest Hemingway and his son Bumby
In this book I got to see Hemingway as a struggling writer with a young family. During this period he had given up journalism in favor of creative writing. He turned out short stories that were rejected for publication in the United States. In fact, German publications seemed to be his only markets.
His approach to writing was as intense and focused as a runner training for a marathon. He talks about writing in cafes, describing them as a warm place to work for the cost of a drink. About interacting with the then and now famous literati of the time -- Gertrude Stein, Evan Shipman, Ezra Pound, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Ford Madox Ford, etc. About their petty jealousies and unfounded admirations. About their demands and generosities. About their advice, sometimes accepted. And about their writing, adding to my own list of intended reading.
And, at the end of the day, he went home to his family.
Sylvia Beach in the doorway of her bookshop
Shakespeare and Company
He also wrote of his discoveries, solutions to life problems, the greatest of which was poverty. His accidental discovery of the Shakespeare and Company bookshop made his life and work there possible. Sylvia Beach served as a lending library to those who could not afford to buy books. He paid his minimal membership fee right away but not before she sent him home with volume after volume to read. And he could take the books with him when he and his family traveled. He had to read.
She also loaned him money when he needed it. Freely. And she reassured him during those times that, like all authors, like all people who set themselves lofty goals, he was good and the world would eventually appreciate his work. After all, didn't the Germans already?
His descriptions of life in Paris at that time are physical. The light playing across damp faces of buildings. The goatherd piping his arrival on their street. Milk was delivered on-the-hoof in that pre-refrigeration time. How to travel on foot from where you were to where you wanted to go without passing restaurants and bakeries emitting scents of things a hungry man could not afford to buy.
And always his main interest was to perfect his writing. Disdaining unnecessary adjectives and adverbs in favor of the mot juste -- "the one and only correct word to use." To show his characters in their world X-act-lY.