Lessons by Hemingway Part I

I’ve had a really hard time writing my blog this week. The problem started Monday morning. After forty minutes of writing my morning pages, I dashed off to the airport to pick up my son. I took him home and then ran a few errands. By one o’clock, I was on the opposite end of town at my husband’s company golf outing. He was short-staffed and asked me to help out. I spent two hours watching golfers attempt to make a hole in one for a trip to Myrtle Beach. Not the greatest use of my time, in spite of the beautiful weather. By the time I made it back home the only thing I wanted to do was veg-out on the sofa. Quite ironic considering my morning pages had been about Hemingway’s strong commitment to his work. Over and over again in A Movable Feast Hemingway talks about completing his work before he did anything else:

I always worked until I had something done and I always stopped when I knew what was going to happen next. That way I could be sure of going on the next day (12).

Then too I never knew when I would be through working. . . (44).

In the spring mornings I would work early while my wife still slept (49).

At first I thought of course he was committed to his work, he was Ernest Hemingway. But when he lived in Paris, he hadn’t made a name for himself. He was training to become writer. He barely had enough money to support himself and his family. The success came after the commitment.

It reminds me of what the Bible says about faith:

Faith is the confidence that what we hope for will actually happen: it gives us assurance about things we cannot see” (Hebrews 11:1 NLT).

If I want writing to become my vocation, I have to behave as if it already is. That means when it is time to write I can’t be sucked into the black hole of family responsibility. When I taught at the college, my class time was sacred. I would have never gone to pick someone up from the airport or volunteered to help out at a golf outing. In fact, I taught even when I wasn’t feeling well. But I don’t treat my writing time the same way. I don’t think of it as “work.” I get caught up in the idea that “work” is only significant if there is a paycheck attached to it.

Like Hemingway, we must commit wholeheartedly to cultivating our craft regardless of compensation or return. We write not to be paid but because we have something to say. This brings us back to the idea of establishing a writing time and sticking to it. It takes discipline and steadfastness in spite of all that life throws at you.

Re-reading A Movable Feast has made me see the value in honoring my writing time as if it were a paying job. So here is my challenge to you. Commit to a specific writing time  next week. Take a hint from Hemingway and don’t stop until you have something done.

Are you in?

3 thoughts on “Lessons by Hemingway Part I

  1. Well said! I really connected with this even though I’m not a writer. I think this message carries over to whatever we are passionate about. Nice job.

  2. What a great post. Even for those of us who aren’t writers this perspective has some real value in how we prioritize time to pursue our passions.

  3. This post really hits home with me as I have some of the same issues in trying to work on my inventory. Seems as though everything else comes first. After reading this, I’m realizing it is because I allow that to happen.

Thoughts???

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