Day 24: Hemingway and Me
06.01.2015 - 05.02.2015
It's all Ernest Hemingway's fault that I'm in Paris. I blame him, his movable feast, Gertrude Stein, and her entire lost generation. I was an English major. I sponged up all the details of descriptions of starving artists and writers who ran away to Europe, mostly to Paris, during the 20s. Zelda and F. Scott, Hem and Hadley, and all their cronies. If you are not a reader, you can relive some of this era in the movie Midnight in Paris. Many of the scenes were filmed near where I live. The red door #4 in the opening scene of the film is just down my stone steps and to the right on Rue Paul Albert.
I fell for the seemingly romantic lifestyle that I read about all those years ago as an undergraduate. And I, like the character Gil in Midnight in Paris, believed somehow that those were better times for writers. It seems as though it was easier to starve, live cheaply, write, and, if you were good, ultimately publish. I have chased that dream for a long time. My writing has improved. I've been to writing workshops in places like New York City and Tuscany. I've met talented writers and made new friends. Now, I'm sort of freezing in my fifth floor apartment high up in Montmartre. It's not quite a garrett, but if you use a little imagination...
Tonight I'm going to a writer's workshop in a loft in Paris. I will pretend to be a writer (a real writer gets published, sells books, and gets read). I have three unpublished novels and 1 1/2 screenplays if anyone is interested. I will workshop my newest novel with other writers here in Paris. I think that is nearly as good as it gets. The only thing better would be to find an agent and to publish.
Somehow, somewhere along the line Hemingway seems to have become my muse. I have visited his haunts in Venice, Madrid, Havana, and now Paris. In fact, after a long dry spell when I had more or less given up writing, I sat in the bar where Hem drank (where didn't he drink?) at Hotel Nationale in Havana, Cuba this past September and suddenly was filling up a notebook. I visited his Cuban home there in Cuba. It's exactly as he left it when the American embargo forced him to leave. He expected to return, but shot himself a year later. The Cubans blame America for his death. He was happy in Cuba. He wrote well in Cuba. He was handed his Nobel prize at his home outside Havana. The Cubans believe if he didn't leave, he wouldn't have died. They may be right. Leaving may have been his undoing.
Anyway, I am grateful to Hemingway for helping me live my dream, for bringing me to Paris and to yet another writing experience.