The Strand Bookstore in
Learning to Read and
It is the only bookshop I know that provides shopping trolleys. An American friend told me she is not allowed in there without a keeper. I was lucky; I bought just two books, neither of which I knew existed before I went in. I lingered in the stationery section. I cannot resist a new notebook or pencil. I could have bought a Moleskine notebook to turn me into Bruce Chatwin or a Palamino Blackwing, John Steinbeck’s preferred writing instrument.
Pilgrimage over; I paused to pick up a copy of Gotham City
Writers’ News from a sidewalk newsstand.
Gotham Writers is another fine
Then I went to an exhibition of Ernest Hemingway’s manuscripts at the Morgan Library. What especially appealed was that Hemingway wrote a lot about how he wrote. I read his letter to Mary Welsh written from the Normandy Invasion. He wrote 'I am ashamed I know too few adjectives.'
'That makes two of us, Ernest', I muttered.
He enjoyed editing his own work. He could do it first in pencil as he wrote, again when he typed it out and finally when reviewing the proofs. Editing is good for all of us whether we like it or not. I guess we need to be as good as Hemingway before we can fight back against editors. There in the margin of an edited typescript, Hemingway's own handwriting declared, 'who b******d this up like this?'
He wrote in
Evidently, Hemingway was not too proud to take advice. Gertrude Stein told him of an early manuscript, 'begin over again and concentrate'. Thanks, Gert.
I saw his notes for the title of a short story. He used to write the story first then create as many as a hundred potential titles before selecting exactly the right one.
If writing was that hard for Hemingway, how are the rest of us to manage?
I drafted this piece with a Palomino Blackwing pencil but I am still not Steinbeck. I used a school exercise book but I am still not Hemingway. What can I be doing wrong?