Sunday, September 17, 2006

Hemingway Had Paris

All one need do to be a writer is write. So with this premise foremost in my mind I set out to be a writer. Indeed, the discovery of blogging and the creation of this, my blog, is a result of the desire, no, need, to write and to express.

But, how does one go about being a writer? The inspiration to write what one will write may be a better question. I've learned that Hemingway composed his stories while seated in a French cafe, somewhere in Paris, scribbling out his words with a pencil on a page of a notebook he kept in his coat pocket. Throughout the day he would observe the people he saw there and what they were doing. In this manner he may have spent whole days enjoying himself quite well, and indeed I believe he did, yet may only have constructed one or two paragraphs in a days time. If we are to believe the critics of his work some of those paragraphs have stirred changes in the world yet unknown.

Today it is the thing to tap out our words on a computer keyboard, watching to see when our words will begin to form the sentences that are part and parcel of our story, hitting the backspace key almost as many times as the e. And just now I find myself tapping a keyboard, anxiously spying my monitor, insuring each letter falls in the correct sequence forming each intended word in its place to form the sentences of this composition. But is this the place where we write?

Something is missing in the process. I think it is the pencil and paper. I think it is the watching of people and, on occasion, interacting with them. I think it is the experience of living what you will write before you write it. These are the very things I believe must be done. Life has a way of getting in the way dealing a preemptive blow to our creativity.

Am I not also seated in a Parisian cafe? No. Hemingway alone had Paris. I have the rest of the world. I can write from anywhere. I can see the look of a young girl's eyes upon her lover. The love and devotion of her feelings toward him are in her eyes as surely as the light of the Moon is in the Sun. I can then put that in a story set anyplace I choose. But I could not do that if I had not first seen it. The realization that living in the cocoon of my existence will certainly bring about the failure of my creative side to enjoin the rest of me in life has brought about a certain awareness that the job I do to earn a living can kill me just as easily as a bank safe falling from a great height. In each case I won't know what's coming until it is too late.

But to have lived in Paris as he did I cannot do, that Paris is gone. The modern world has no place for serenity. You can search high and low and you will not find it. There is no place where one can loiter the day by. You will not be left alone. Someone will inevitably molest your peace as you watch and loiter and enjoy and learn and see the things about which you will write and the characters that will live out their lives in your imagination. Maybe I'm wrong. Let's hope so.

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