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.
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.
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.
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.
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. 🙂