We Can’t All Be Hemingway

Lately I have had several friends urge me to write a memoir. My reaction is always “Me? Why on earth me?” They all have different reasons but there seems to be common agreement that, told in my own words, the rather unorthodox story of the path of my life so far, could be entertaining. And I admit to often wishing my predecessors had laid down some lines about what it might have been like to be them.

But it’s not as simple as that. I have always thought it terribly self absorbed to write about oneself for the sole purpose of sharing it with others. It’s like believing your own PR. And that’s OK if you walk the walk as well. But we can’t all be Hemingway. What do I know about writing a memoir? My dad believed his own PR. I often felt embarrassed for him.

And what’s more, it’s not my style. I get a nosebleed if I write more than 5000 words on a single topic. Maybe I’m worth 5000 words. That’s a thought. A 5000 word memoir? It would have to be spare. Intense. Like a long haiku? That’s absurd.

It would need to be character driven. Much of it would be about individuals and what role they played in my life. Some of it wouldn’t be very nice. Some of these people still have my address and phone number. And it would just be ridiculous to leave them out entirely.

Putting all this down (on paper) would also give me a dangerously potent voice. My version of my life and those around me would eventually be the only one out there (wherever “out there” is). A hundred years from now I doubt anyone that reads my words will have any way of fact checking. I would be scrupulous in my chronicle, but there wouldn’t be anybody to challenge my version. The best part is I wouldn’t be around to get skewered. Ha! That’s awfully tempting. But who am I to publish the location of all the corpses and their identities and their tastes in wine.

No. Just peel the potatoes.

There is more than enough animosity and discord in my world already. I’ll leave the bull fighting to Ernest.

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March 2, 2018

I wouldn’t pick Hemingway as the great American novelist to whom to aspire. Go with Mark Twain instead.

March 2, 2018

@dolorangelicus Ha! His three volume autobiography takes up more room on my bookshelf than the OED!

March 2, 2018

And how will you serve your potatoes …. mashed, whole or roasted, eh? *smiles* enjoyed your post. Keep writing … and peeling the spuds! ~A~

March 2, 2018

I loved A Moveable Feast. But it’s really the only thing I liked by him. Maybe short is good…

March 2, 2018

I have a friend who only wrote short stories, and was afraid to do a novel for Nano last year. I reminded him that a chapter is a short story, and that a novel is just a collection of short stories. If you can write a chapter, you can write a book. Believing in your own PR is required to be a writer too. I believe it and I don’t care how embarrassing it looks. I’m a writer and a damn good one too!


March 2, 2018

I especially like the closet skeletons. Those wonderful, dead people that families like to not remember.

March 2, 2018

I had always been under the impression that those who wrote Memoirs, did it because they wanted to be acknowledged. Or remembered. Or they had done something that warranted such a dictation to take place. Or maybe their “memoirs” were written because they had become self-absorbed.

As zhnee mentioned, I too would imagine many skeletons coming out of closets when those memoirs were published. Or not.

I like your style. And your humor!

I’ll be back around, too.

March 3, 2018

I remention microfiction, and it’s recently popularity. I have a book brewing, but comprised of connected smaller stories. You don’t have to write a classic novella, but you should publish something. You have a gift.

I am echoing other Hemingway sentiment. My favorite things about him are Big Two Hearted River (short is good, great in that case) and six toe cats. Do your own thing.

March 3, 2018

I can’t find your full reply here. I believe this is an official OD quirk.

March 3, 2018

@e3 My bad note / Let me try again: I need to first believe in myself. I need to believe my own PR, that I am a writer. There are so many writers I admire that intimidate the crap out of me. And I can’t get past the idea that I don’t deserve the same title. The good news is that I’ve figured out a solution to the memoir problem about pissing off people: I’ll pull a Mark Twain / make it a time capsule…

March 3, 2018

@robertleroy – that is fair. I look forward to your work. Maplen Sugaring is your prose sharpened, honed. So is the tale of your Uncle. What is clear about those pieces is that Hemingway’s title doesn’t mean shit. You are already a writer. Just one waiting for a bigger audience.

March 3, 2018

Can’t edit. Read through typos. 🤗🤗

March 4, 2018

Further to my last note – As far as I’m concerned Hemingway is a great reference: he said – “Write hard and clear about what hurts.” I have always found that the only advice worth following.