A snapshot of Hemingway’s house, way back when.
Hemingway at the helm.
Stairs up to Hemingway’s writing hideaway.
A tribute to one of Hemingway’s favorite pursuits, discovered in Key West: sport fishing.
I’m a sucker for this sun-licked wrap-around porch.
Hemingway’s house is famous for its polydactyl cats. Not all of the approximately 50 cats now resident there have manifested this gene, but all are carriers.
As always, a nod to Hemingway house’s horde of feline residents.
A tribute to Hemingway’s love for big game hunting.
Note the base of this fountain: a urinal Hemingway acquired from a local Key West bar.
Hubby and me, proving we were there.
Another shot of Hemingway’s writing getaway. Note to nods to his passions: writing, books, fishing, and big game hunting.
A treatise on the Iceberg Theory.
This pool, upon completion in 1938, cost $20,000 in the currency of the day. (Or, approximately $350,000 today.) It was the only in-ground pool within 100 miles when built, and was dug out of the solid coral that comprises the island.
Hemingway’s bed, custom-made to accommodate his large size. The headboard is an antique Spanish gate.
A wall o’ the four wives. A somewhat unsettling group of portraits, perhaps.
A portable typewriter, like those Hemingway might have taken on his adventures.
Love these posters for the movie adaptations of Hemingway’s novels.
A movie featuring Hemingway and wife no. 3, American novelist, travel writing, and journalist Martha Gellhorn.
Hemingway’s home was one of the first in the Florida Keys to have running water.
A few pieces of Hemingway’s private library. Most of his books reside in Cuba.
“The Snows of Kilimanjaro,” one of the stories inspired by Hemingway’s hunting expeditions.
Entrance to Hemingway’s house.
A snapshot of Hemingway’s writing room above the carriage house (and the iron grate that protects the room from wayward tourists).
Cat standing guard over Hemingway’s writing room.
In my last post, I mentioned that I was recently in Key West, soaking up the sea and much longed-for time with family. I got to swim in turquoise waters, stuff myself silly with seafood, and wander streets lined with tropical trees and homes that, to my untrained eye, blended the beach architecture of my childhood with southern-Victorian and Spanish styles.
But of course, no writer’s visit to Key West would be complete without a stop at one house in particular: The Hemingway Home and Museum.
I’m always a bit embarrassed to admit this–after all, I have a Masters in English and American literature–but I haven’t actually read all that much Hemingway. I did read his “Hills like White Elephants,” a short story that exemplifies Hemingway’s Iceberg Theory (the concept of writing around a particular subject–here abortion–without ever explicitly naming it). But my research emphasis in my degree was Romantic, Victorian, and Post-Colonial British literature, and Early American and 19th-century literature. Chronologically-speaking, Hemingway came a little too late for me.
But a few years ago, I picked up Paula McLain’s historical, Hemingway-themed novel, The Paris Wife. Obviously, this book is A) fiction (and therefore, a not-necessarily-rigidly-factual interpretation of history) and B) more focused on Hemingway’s first wife, Hadley Richardson, than Hemingway himself.
Continue reading “Key West: Hangin’ with Hemingway”
The “R” word’s an ugly one. Nobody likes talking about it. But rejection is a major part of a writer’s life. There’s not a conventionally-published author alive who hasn’t experienced that sting. Nobody–not even the J.K. Rowlings out there–make it through this biz without a few scrapes.
This week, I received a rejection letter (couldn’t we bibliophiles have come up with a less brutal term for this? What’s wrong with “No Thank You Correspondence?”) from one of the literary agencies to which I’d submitted my novel.
It was actually a relatively flattering letter as far as they go. But in the end, they still said “no.” They couldn’t offer me representation. You always know this is a possibility, of course. But you hope really, really, really hard that this time, the answer’ll be “yes.”
Reading the rejection, Professional Lauren appreciated the speed of the agency’s response. Treasured the compliment to my writing talents. Tucked away the constructive criticism for analysis and implementation. Continue reading “Rejection & Resilience”
Yesterday brought an exciting surprise in the mail, all the way from the U.S. of A.: my new book, Insult to Injury: Violence in Spanish, Hispanic American and Latino Art & Literature.
Right there on page 94 of the anthology, starts Chapter 7… my chapter!
“Brutality, Borderlands, and Bildungsromans: Violence and Cultural Conflict in Rodolfo Anaya’s Bless Me, Ultima and Américo Paredes’s George Washington Gómez”
This may call for a celebratory class of wine with my gal-pals. (You know who are are!)
(P.S.–Aren’t I spoiled? Check out the lovely Valentine’s Day roses my husband made sure I had at my day job.)
Here’s another one of my short-fiction assignments from my undergraduate degree in Professional Writing….
A time-warp had swallowed the months since I’d last stirred the air here—the NYU lecture hall hadn’t changed a bit.
“Mags!” Professor Beckett’s beard scratched my cheeks as he kissed one then the other. “Great to have you back, Tex.”
He adjusted his horn-rimmed glasses, his lime-colored tie, casually preening as always. “I want to see you after class.”
Before I could ask why, he’d flounced to the lecture hall’s front, out of range of interrogation. Uneasiness simmered in my gut.
Glancing at the clock, I moved for the nearest empty chair. My uneasiness boiled into discomfort when I realized who occupied the desk neighboring mine, but it was too late to find another seat without it becoming awkward. Tentatively, I lowered myself into my ill-chosen chair. Continue reading “Wasted”
Recently, I had a bizarre moment. A person (we’ll call them Person #1) who has largely been kind to me–even going out of their way to be so–was portrayed by someone else (Person #2) as having a completely different, far less amenable side.
The tricky part of this was that I totally buy Person #2’s take. I trust their opinion, believing them when they say they’ve had this bad experience. But I also don’t think the kindness shown me by Person #1 is totally fabricated.
So it was throwing me for a bit of a loop, trying to square Person #1’s very-opposed-but-apparently-equally-genuine qualities. I kept thinking: “How can they be like this to me, then turn around and act like that to others?”
Here’s the truth, though: People are complicated, complex, mysterious creatures with shades of motivation, perception, and desire that can be difficult to impossible to untangle. Sure, some universals exist (at least among those not tormented by serious psychoses): We’re all selfish. We all want to love and be loved. We’re all afraid of something. We all see ourselves as the hero of our own story. But we can never entirely know what it’s like to inhabit another person’s shoes, because each pair of shoes is so marvelously unique. What to me looked like dissonance within Person #1’s character made perfect, logical sense to them.
I sometimes feel badly because I’m prone to the writerly habit of seeing the living, breathing people around me in character-terms. I pick up this person’s quirky gesture. I crib that guy’s unique cadence of speech. I tuck people into categories: courteous southern gentleman. Friendly, fun-loving party girl. Brash, bullying Type A father. Continue reading “Characters & Complexity”
I’m so grateful for my beta readers. By the time a manuscript is ready for eyes other than mine, I’ve sunk so many hours into the beast that total objectivity is no longer possible. This is the point where my test readers become my knights-in-shining; they tell me what’s working and what needs a tweak (or overhaul).
Recently, a reader for my young adult novel reported apathy regarding the book’s central romantic pair. For her, their tie to one another wasn’t compelling enough for it to seem justified when the heroine surrenders her dreams in order to remain with the hero.
Obviously, I would’ve preferred for her to gush over my love birds. But this kind of honest feedback is enormously helpful, indispensable… and a good reminder of the two elements essential for writing the kind of romantic relationships readers want to sink into:
- Puzzle-Piecing (Yup, this is a newly-coined term, à la yours truly.)
Continue reading “Romance: Formula & Fizz”
First things first: an ENORMOUS (terribly belated!) thank you to everyone who voted in my poll on Twitter-style novel pitches. With your help, I went into #PitMad with enthusiasm–and I’m thrilled to report, not without result. By the close of December 1, my pitches for my 1920s historical novel had received a total of four likes–two by literary agencies, and two by independent publishing companies. I’ve since fired off all requested queries, synopses, and reading samples. Thus far, one entity has requested a full manuscript. Hooray! One entity has given the project a pass. Awww…. (This is an excellent example of how peculiar art businesses like writing are–what prompts one person to seek more will be un-alluring to the next.) Where things go from here, literally only God knows. But it’s encouraging when people out in the mystical realm of publication evidence interest in your ideas. And despite my temptation to be discouraged by one person’s “no,” I’m also in wholehearted concurrence with The Baffled King blog: when someone requests a full manuscript after reading your sample pages, it’s essential to make a moment to celebrate that victory, even if no contract follows after. Little victories are victories nonetheless.
Baby steps, right? Continue reading “Writing: Resources & the Road Forward”