What I Learned from Ernest Hemingway, Plus a Photo of Gregory Peck, Plus Snakes

What if soy milk is just milk introducing itself in Spanish?*

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To Write, etc., has been dormant for a while because I’ve been (a) playing spider solitaire, and (b) working on two pieces of literature:

(1) a story entitled “When Cheese Is Love,” which needs to be 5,000 words but is currently 6,200 words, necessitating radical surgery and the murders of a few darlings; and,

(2) a post for the Austin Mystery Writers blog that would have been online last Monday had I not suffered at tiny fall (and, no, I’m not going to tell how it happened), which rendered me indisposed for just long enough to figure out the post wasn’t coming together as I wanted because I was trying to write about two different topics at once.

I can’t complain about an indisposition that allows me time to realize the first half of a post I’ve drafted says one thing and the second half contradicts it.

My next project will appear right here on To Write, etc. It is tentatively entitled “Snakes I Have Known.”

I spent this evening telling snake stories on Facebook and suddenly realized–it’s like that chapter in For Whom the Bell Tollsno, it’s in “The Snows of Kilimanjaro,” actually–where Hemingway wastes a lot of material writing about what his character would never write:

Now he would never write the things that he had saved to write until he knew enough to write them well. . .

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He remembered the good times with them all, and the quarrels. They always picked the finest places to have the quarrels. And why had they always quarrelled when he was feeling best? He had never written any of that . . .

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No, he had never written about Paris. Not the Paris that he cared about. But what about the rest that he had never written?

What about the ranch and the silvered gray of the sage brush, the quick, clear water in the irrigation ditches, and the heavy green of the alfalfa. The trail went up into the hills and the cattle in the summer were shy as deer. . . 

About the half-wit chore boy who was left at the ranch that time and told not to let any one get any hay, and that old bastard from the Forks who had beaten the boy when he had worked for him stopping to get some feed. The boy refusing and the old man saying he would beat him again. The boy got the rifle from the kitchen and shot him when he tried to come into the barn . . . 

So there it is. Hemingway threw away all those stories by putting them inside of a dying character thinking about the stories he will never write.

And Hemingway never wrote them either. He wrote about them. What a waste.**

Heaven forfend that I should meet a similar fate. I’m not going to write about those snake stories. I’m going to write them.

So watch this space.

In case you don’t care for snakes, don’t worry–I won’t include pictures of them. And no one will be bitten. All my snake stories are true, but I kept my distance while they were happening.

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*The question is rhetorical and appears only because I’m feeling whimsical. And because this is  my blog and nobody’s grading it and I can do whatever I please. So there.

**For most of this post, my tongue is firmly planted in my cheek, but this paragraph comes from the heart. It’s sad that Hemingway left stories untold. It’s sad that any writer does that. And I guess they all do.