To be honest, I think Hemingway is kind of a butthole. He was supposedly the ultimate "man's man"- fishing giant tuna (I must admit, I didn't know tuna could be so giant...), fighting bulls, drinking absinthe straight, hunting lions in Africa, leaving women left right and centre- but all those testosterone-pumping cliches make me wonder is a) how exhausted he must have been each day, and b) what it must have meant to be the ultimate "woman's woman" in his world.
Throughout his life, he was with all these super rad female writers- war correspondent Martha Gellhorn, author and journalist Mary Hemingway, Vogue and Vanity Fair writer Pauline Pfieffer, but he never seemed to notice what they were doing, or care, or respect them as far as he could throw them (and Mary was a tiny woman- she could have been hucked real far). Just thinking about the lack of respect the "greatest writer of the 20th century" showed for the women writers he supposedly loved, I'm actually tempted to delete this post as I write it, since do I really want my first post to be a long rant on womanhood that most likely would have simply made the old bear roll his eyes and pour another pernod?
I suppose, what I'm trying to say is, while I love much of Hemingway's writing for its style, its muscular terseness and endless "goods" and "nices", I don't particularly know how I feel about HIM, since I have a teensy hunch that my admiration for his writing discipline would certainly not have been returned, much less appreciated, should he be alive today. And yet... though he might not have wanted, or cared, if I took it, I don't need to fully agree with everything in his life to appreciate much of his offhanded advice about writing.
In an interview, Hemingway once said something to the effect that in writing, he set out to "write one true story about each thing I know". He certainly stuck to it- he was famous for writing stories solely about people he knew, places he'd been, and events he'd seen with his own eyes. He had a huge hand in inventing the "creative non-fiction" style that is a genre in itself these days. But in my own nod to good old Hem, the darling chauvinist, the sweetheart sexist, (the truly fantastic writer), I am going to give myself permission today to write one true thing about one thing I know: being a woman who is a writer. And that true thing is that I don't believe there is one definition for what it means to be the "ultimate woman's woman", the way that male writers have often wrote themselves into a manly man's box. And I believe that lack of a box actually gives us women writers great and profound freedom.
Last week, being the ultimate woman's woman meant I flew down to LA to help produce a short film I wrote with my spirited directing partner, Todd. Yesterday, being the ultimate woman's woman meant I tried to sort my laundry by colours and then fabric and then delicates and then- good Lord- ended up throwing the whole pile in together, cleaned the bathrooms with a pretty white spray bottle that said "organic" but was actually re-filled with acid yellow generic store brand cleaner, and cooked the heartiest friggin' blueberry porridge for my husband's breakfast. Today, being the ultimate woman's woman means I light a $2 candle I bought at Superstore, douse it with lavender essential oil so it smells like a $75 candle from West Elm, and sit down to write one true thing about something I know a lot about- being a woman.
So huzzah to me, the ultimate woman's woman, huzzah to all you female writers out there, the ultimate women's women, and huzzah to you brave male writers, writing yourselves out of boxes and into new territory as the ultimate men's men. You don't have to spend your leisure time attempting to amateurly tame bears at the visiting circus (ahem... I'm looking at you, Ernest) in order to live a life worth writing about. All you need to do is sit down and write one true story about one thing you know. In that, you rise above the noise that is everyone else's voice, and you bravely and necessarily fill one more gap in the ongoing story that is the human experience.
And that makes you the ultimate writer's writer.
As Frankenstein's ill-fated lover, Elizabeth, would say:
"Adieu! Take care of yourself; and, I entreat you, write!"