“I belong to this notebook and this pencil”

November is National Write a Novel Month, and I’m loosely participating. I’ve had an idea for a middle reader story idea, and figured this would be the perfect push to get me started. We’re almost two weeks into the month, and I’ve only written about 2,000 words. A typical middle grade novel is about 20,000 to 30,000 words, so I have a lot of work to do. But I keep getting stuck. Even though I have the whole story in my head, I have difficulty starting each writing session because I’m not sure exactly what happens next. Feeling defeated, I decided to meet a friend for coffee who always inspires me.

The coffee shop we went to was small and packed. I got there early and grabbed the only available table, located between a trash can and an occupied table. I pulled out my book and tried to read until my friend arrived.

But the thing with coffee shops is, it’s so much more fun to eavesdrop. And oh man, the table next to me. I’m surprised they didn’t see me put my book down, look at them, and roll my eyes. It was a young man, 23 to be exact (he said this multiple times), and presumably an old mentor from his high school days. His voice was deep and could be heard throughout the shop I’m sure, but also I think he was projecting his voice just a bit so that everyone could hear him. His mentor was well dressed and gushing over what he had to say. She kept saying how proud she was of him, how he was taking such big leaps in life, and how she always knew he would amount to something.

His response to her praises…”You know, I’m pretty proud of myself too. I continue to surprise even myself.”

(That’s when the book dropped and I looked over.)

Then, he dared to ask his MENTOR if she had ever HEARD OF HEMINGWAY. Specifically A Moveable Feast.

“I feel like moving to the East Coast is *my* Moveable Feast,” he said. 

Perhaps it is. But don’t be so arrogant as to think someone over twice your age has never heard of Hemingway. I feel a lot of young (pretentious) people use Hemingway as their source of quotes and references. I think it’s because he’s fairly accessible, and so romantic, in the sense that he was part of the The Lost Generation, living in Paris, writing, boozing, fraternizing with Fitzgerald and Stein, traveling Europe skiing and such. I for one am not a huge fan. I found him to be arrogant and gossipy, and his stories never did much for me.

Then it dawned on me. Hemingway was my answer to getting unstuck and gaining momentum.

I’m going to be pretentious. I’m going to quote Hemingway. In A Moveable Feast, we learn some writing tips that Hemingway used, and one of which has been rattling around the back of my brain since I read it. He said:

“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.”

Such simple and wonderful advice! Thanks Papa Hemingway. I guess I’ll stop rolling my eyes when people quote you. They may actually be on to something.

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2 thoughts on ““I belong to this notebook and this pencil”

  1. Strange Girls, Inc. says:

    (Somehow I just figured out you also had a wordpress blog.)

    So true! I tend to write an idea into the ground, give up on it, rinse/repeat, and subsequently never finish anything. It’s easy to hate something if you take away all the mystery. Sort of like relationships, I guess.

    Cheers to EH, who apparently knew what he was doing!

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