Writing About Life

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When I first started writing a blog back in 2014, I included a quote from Ernest Hemingway in the sidebar. “In order to write about life first you must live it.” I foresaw a retirement in which I spent long hours finally having time to write. Finally able to write about whatever I wanted. Mostly writing about life. My life and my interests.

Now, I know that it’s long been unfashionable to admire Hemingway. Yes, he was an egotistical, misogynist bastard much of the time…. if you’ll excuse the profanity. But I have always admired his writing. And what he says in his writing about life and courage, and about dedication to writing and how to write. Perhaps not as much in his novels (I hated Old Man and the Sea) as in his short fiction. I love his early short stories; “In Another Country” is my favourite. And my first reading of A Moveable Feast, his memoir of life in Paris in the twenties, read back when I was in my twenties, had a big impact on me. The idea of writing, of mining one’s own life for ideas, learning to write better, and perfecting one’s craft was hugely appealing to me.

Morning tea and book time.

When I was still teaching, I used to talk to my students about Hemingway quite often. I didn’t sugar-coat his bad points. But I did try to separate the very flawed man from his work, and focus on what he said in his work. I taught his short stories most of my career. And I used to tell my creative writing class how when I first read A Moveable Feast I imagined what it would be like to be able to sit in a café in Paris with a glass of cold white wine, a tattered notebook, and a pencil… just writing. I told them how I’d read that book when I was at a cross-roads in my life, and it had inspired me.

Anyway, in my blog I wanted to write about life. Not philosophical tomes on the meaning of life, not earnest literary fiction, just stuff that I wanted to say. Family stories, classroom anecdotes, tales from our travels, books I was reading and had read, odd topics that interested me, and of course what I was wearing. My life and my interests. And I hoped that somebody would read my digital scribblings. Writing a blog has been an amazing outlet for me. A vehicle to say whatever I want to say. I put a lot of work into it, and it’s been a labour of love. As cliché as that sounds.

Before writing about life, one must live it. Including reading great books.
Finally getting to my Orsola de Castro book.

But here’s the thing about writing a blog. Sometimes the creative gas tank gets empty. And it needs a fill-up. To kind of quote Hemingway, in order to continue to write about life, I need time to just live life. And now that the world is reopening, albeit cautiously, at least here, I’ve been spending all my time just living. Running the roads like my mum used to say. And I’ve spent much less time focusing on my blog. And that is a bit guilt-inducing, I must admit.

So to address my problem, I’m going to cut down my posting schedule to once a week for the rest of the summer. Once, instead of twice. Because I need a minimum of three days to put together two posts a week. I often do reading and research for a post for a couple of hours on Monday. I usually write all day Tuesday. On one other day in the week, I work on outfit posts, film or take photos, check the photos and choose which to use and hopefully upload them the same day. If the weather has cooperated. Then I spend all of Saturday writing. In between loads of laundry.

And since reopening I’ve had lunch dates, doctor’s appointments, and walking dates. I’ve scheduled more lunch dates, dentist appointments, coffee dates, cycling with Hubby dates, visiting out-of-town friends for the day dates, dinner get-togethers. Not to mention a couple of shopping days. And we leave for New Brunswick in mid-August. That’s three weeks away. Phew.

Looking back, lock-down seems so restful.

But I think I’ll be able to juggle my reopening deluge of activities with one blog post a week. And I’ll be able to focus better on that one, instead of feeling the time pressure to write two posts. It doesn’t sound like much to write 1000-2000 words twice a week. But some weeks it is. And I don’t want my enjoyment of the work to go down the drain. Plus having more free time will allow me to read some of those books that have been stacked on my sun room table. Listen to more podcasts. Discuss world and literary affairs with Hubby. Or just chill. All activities which recharge my creative battery.

Oh joy… I have nowhere to go today.

It’s funny but since the pandemic restrictions have been lifted, and the potential for outings has increased, I feel as if the world has horned in on Hubby’s and my little isolation Shangri-La. I don’t want lockdown to continue. Heaven forbid. It’s just that I have to learn to navigate a busier life. And try to make it work for me. So a couple of mornings a week of lounging with my tea and book on the deck, hair stuck up, no make-up are required. As are afternoons on patios with friends, evenings on our deck with friends, coffee with my sister, cycling with Hubby. And long morning walks with just myself and my audio book.

Bad hair day = lots of reading and chilling

I’ll be back to my regular two posts a week in September, when we come home from New Brunswick. In the meantime, I want to yak and yak and yak with friends. Hug my family. Meet little Rachel, my new great-great-niece, my niece’s granddaughter. See old friends at home. Watch Jane Austen movies with my mum. And read all kinds of books that I’ve been meaning to read. Like Loved Clothes Last by Orsola de Castro. I need to finish The Conscious Closet. And finally, finally get to Hilary Mantel’s The Mirror and the Light and Paula McLain’s When the Stars Go Dark.

Then I might even reread A Moveable Feast. See if it can inspire me all over again.

And I’ll still have time to chat with you guys on that one post a week. Starting next week, I plan to publish late in the week. Say Friday or Saturday. That way you can read it with your morning cuppa on the weekend. Because I’m sure you guys will be doing the same as me. Squeezing just as much life out of the next few weeks as you can.

And come the fall, hopefully writing about life will be a piece of cake. The ideas should be falling all over themselves to get down on paper. Ha. Hopefully.

So, see you next week. 🙂

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62 thoughts on “Writing About Life”

  1. Wendy in York

    You do right Sue .
    I can see how much work you put in here & you have to enjoy it . Not good if it starts to feel like another chore to fit in . It’s good of you to manage once a week at this busy time . You’ve built up a loyal group of readers now who’d probably like you to post everyday but then you’d have to be taken away somewhere quiet to recuperate.
    Hemingway’s image has always put me off his writing I’m afraid . Such an unappealing man . I read Martha Gelhorn’s Travels With Myself & Another years ago & loved it . It’s still on my bookshelf which doesn’t happen to many books I’ve read . There must have been something about him to attract such a woman . I read this article recently & wondered if you had caught the series over there . Ken Burns is always good so I must watch it .
    https://www.theguardian.com/tv-and-radio/2021/jul/18/ken-burns-i-felt-that-hemingways-uber-masculinity-was-a-mask
    Have a lovely summer catching up with family & friends , especially your mum . Enjoy all the hugs .

    1. I loved Martha Gelhorn’s memoir as well. She was a pretty amazing woman. We tried to watch the Ken Burns series but the version we got was in Spanish. Weird. Not sure what happened to our PBS channel there.

  2. I hope you have a glorious time. This peculiar existence – one foot in, one foot out, never making plans too far ahead – can mess with your mind. Who knows where we will be come the autumn? That aside, taking the time to fully enjoy every contact, every drink, dinner, natter, laugh and snigger, has to be the way forward. See you soon.

  3. I think “Hills Like White Elephants” is probably my favorite Hemingway short story. I watched the Ken Burns series, which was interesting – I hadn’t known about the mental illness in his family, or his many head injuries. Not that either of those things excuse his misogyny or bad behavior, but they do add another layer.

    Perhaps I’ll join you in re-reading A Moveable Feast. Perhaps we can all have a chat about it in September? At any rate, enjoy your lighter schedule!

  4. Hemingway…the Ken Burns doc was very good. Also I recommend The Paris Wife, a novel about his first marriage and life in Paris. Enjoy your renewed social life and visit with your Mom. Safe travels.

  5. Wishing you a wonderful summer break from your normal blog schedule. We all need a bit of self- care after the year that was. Your blog has been a welcome companion during these times. Enjoy every minute, and don’t forget to write💐

  6. As much as we all love to catch up with you a couple times a week, you really need to feel energized and to get all that done in a few days. Take time to reconnect with all and especially your mom (so glad it finally came together) and enjoy the real social life. Each weekly installment will be that much sweeter to see in the inbox. Personally, I am just dipping my toes in gently to get back out there, it has been so long, I feel a bit different than that long ago time. We will be waiting for you. Have fun.

  7. You write about life in such a warm and engaging way that I am always delighted when a new blog post appears. This will continue to be the case, whatever your publishing schedule may be. Enjoy the rest of the summer, and I’m especially pleased to know that this will include your long-awaited reunion with your mum.

  8. Oh joy! Indeed. I wish you a wonderful, summer of dating in all its forms and the gathering of all manner of juicy and tantalizing life experiences to share.
    BTW, I just ordered the kindle version of A Moveable Feast and I am hoping that Hemingway and his writing will rekindle my love for writing and refresh an almost daily practice, which has been left in the dust by an obsession with daily sketching.
    I journal every day and write short texts next to sketches about everyday stuff and things but for some time now, there’s been a yearning to return to a dedicated writing time alongside my interests.
    May God keep you safe and you and hubby go out and about and have fun.

  9. I can so relate to this! I used to find it difficult enough adjusting to the rhythm changes at the end of a semester, both at Christmas and then over the summer. And those were fairly predictable. . . these Covid-related rhythms — both going into and coming out of restrictions — are demanding in ways we don’t quite get until we’re a few weeks into them, for me at least. . .
    And then that balance between living and writing about living. . . you’re wise to honour that. Once a week is a thoughtful compromise, so we can still enjoy regular updates and chats. And you’ll have time to recharge. Win-win! xo

  10. Enjoy your lighter summer schedule! I look forward to whatever you give us. You and your readers are my best source for new books and authors.

  11. Fill up your gas tank. The rest of the summer awaits. I will happily look forward to your writing every weekend, and read – coffee in hand – about your thoughts and adventures, large and small, with great pleasure. Thanks from another devoted reader.

  12. Enjoy your summer,Sue! It is important to have life,to meet our nearest (or not so near-sending love to your Mum!)and dearest,to recharge and have time for oneself. It may sound weird-because in the Covid-related rhythms (thank you Frances!)it seems that we had enough solo-time during lock-down,but I feel that too many socializing now has to have balance,too
    I respect all your hard work (for our pleasure) indeed. Once a week will be a treat as well
    Dottoressa

  13. Enjoy your summertime–especially the upcoming visit with Mum. Appreciate all the time and effort you put into your posts, so completely understand the need to step back for a breather and just live.

  14. I moved my writing schedule from T/Th/Sa to just T/Th because it felt like a chore. Plus I plan things to write but then go off on a completely different tangent, most of the time, just because something strikes me in the moment.

    Which reminds me, I need to go write right now. It’s Thursday.

  15. Well deserved, Sue, good for you! Enjoy your summer.
    We in the States are fearing another lockdown as the Delta variant spreads like crazy. It’s heartbreaking. Get your shot together, people. (Pun intended, but no joke.)

    1. Get your SHOT together, people! I agree wholeheartedly! We are now experiencing what the CDC director calls a pandemic of the unvaccinated! Maddening.

  16. Will continue enjoying your blog as always. I plan to go back to previous posts and find another book to read.

  17. It will be difficult to manage on only one installment of “high heels” for the next weeks! Your posts are always thoughtful and thought provoking and down right enjoyable. I usually save reading them til I have time to fix a cup of coffee and settle in to enjoy your writing and the comments from your wonderful group of followers. I hope you realize how appreciated you are. Enjoy slowing down a bit here and re-emerging into your socializing with friends and family.
    THANKS

  18. You’ve pretty much put my thoughts into words here, Sue. While we missed family terribly and are making time with them a priority over the summer months, hubby and I had fallen into a routine that worked well for us over the past year or so and life suddenly seems much busier! Enjoy the time that blogging less gives you. Who knows but that we might be locked down again before long. I hope not, but I’m not holding my breath.

  19. Hope you a wonderful time with your friends and family. We’re lucky that you’ll still post once a week. Hug everyone!

  20. Similar to you Sue, we have quickly realized our little isolation bubble is about to burst as our social life begins to ramp up. We had our first outing with fully vaccinated friends over the weekend. I thought it might be awkward but instead, it was very enjoyable. I always imagined the process of creating a blog must be quite time consuming and you just confirmed it. It’s no wonder that your creative tank needs filling up on occasion. Enjoy this well deserved time with your family and friends Sue. XO

  21. Dear Sue, enjoy life, thank you for all your wonderful posts. Hope the summer is fun, safe and full of exciting adventures.

  22. Enjoy your time away from the blog – you do so well to keep it going at such a high standard.

    I have not read Hemingway for years and years, but remember well the impact he had on me when I first read him. What he wrote about seemed so exotic and sophisticated to the 18 year old me and even then I appreciated (without really understanding why) the elegance of his writing.

    How lovely to watch Jane Austen movies with your mother. I’ve just finished listening to Sense and Sensibility this morning.

  23. Enjoy your summer, especially that visit to your mother! It takes me long enough to compose a comment, can’t imagine writing a whole piece the way you do, but I really enjoy your writing and look forward to whatever you feel like doing.
    Here in Melbourne we’re on Lockdown 5.0, getting our second AZ jab on Sunday, but even outside of lockdown, I’m a little nervous about mingling again, and things get busy again very quickly.
    Jules

    1. I heard about you guys being locked down again. I’m a bit nervous too. No shopping malls without my mask. And I won’t be attending any events with big crowds for a while. Not intentionally anyway.

  24. Enjoy The Mirror and the Light – it took me 7 weeks to read.I said aside time to read large chunks but it is an enormous read.Mantel is a great writer and I am just amazed at herskills,especially the dialogue.
    I will be looking forward to your once a week blogs, and continue to see your Instagram posts. I am “mumofhumphreythepug”.
    Enjoy your summer outings and reunions.

      1. My pug boy is a joy and he’s sitting next to me as I type.He loves a snuggle, especially on a winter’s morning in lockdown Melbourne.

  25. Enjoy your well deserved recharge. Have you watched the 2020 Emma.? If not, you should watch it with your mom. I really enjoyed it.

  26. You set a wonderful example for your readers…to take time. Please do! Enjoy the time with your mother and all the activities and events that are opening up. You’ve given us a gift, really…a reminder that this time is a precious commodity.
    Thank you…Charlene H

    1. Thanks, Charlene. I want to be able to relish all my activities. And too many at a time spoils things for me… I end up just wishing I were home with my book. Ha.

  27. Your posts are lovely and I can see that you put a lot of work into them. Enjoy a little break, recharge and then you can share with us again twice a week. I can be patient, Covid taught me that about myself. Big surprise.
    Karen

  28. Mary of Pittsburgh

    My husband and I followed “A Moveable Feast” all through Paris — what an introduction to that magical city! I do look forward to your once-a-week posts. They are always worth reading.

    1. When we were in Paris we visited 74 Rue du Cardinal Lemoine, Shakespeare and Company, and the Closerie des Lilas. Poor Hubby… we tramped all over trying to find the Closerie because our maps were incorrect and we didn’t have an iPhone.

  29. I think I would have enjoyed teaching with you. Funny things about blogs,one reads comments from so many in so many places that I would have never et anyone in! We were fortunate to finally get to Alaska,just returned.Meeting so many precious new (to us) family members> However, I just was released from the hospital with heart issue and a blood clot. So your comments about preciousness of time,Covid, memoirs of Paris and Hemingway(my mother was always enamoured with the romance of 20ies Paris(I liked the Paula McClain novel,but liked the wife better,also enjoyed Ken Burn’s take. Ernest is such a legend in South Florida.It was iteresting to see the old pictures ad film clips.I had one creative prof. at FSU who was devotedto EH and sent to see him when he came through Tallahassee one time right before the Ketechum shooting.Never taught him in class,but being good little english major, followed him along and read everything! I have a lists of to be read, so if we have another shutdown I am ready! Hope all goes well with you visit with your Mom! Will look forward to your return in the fall!

  30. Enjoy your summer to the fullest. And to finally to see your Mom…is she back home?
    I crashed on Tuesday… family visits, overnighting, bbq’s and wandering thru Yorkdale. I’m not used to that fast pace anymore ..lol.

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