I have a good friend who just got back from Key West. She went with her daughter, and I asked, when I discovered they were going, if they chose to go there because they were Hemingway fans. That wasn’t the reason, but his Key West house is one of my favorite things there.
That conversation got me thinking about what is arguably my favorite of his works, A Moveable Feast. A memoir about his early writing days as an ex-pat in Paris, during his marriage to his first wife, it was published posthumously and remains a best-seller.
This is my favorite passage:
But sometimes when I was starting a new story and I could not get it going, I would sit in front of the fire and squeeze the peel of the little oranges into the edge of the flame and watch the sputter of blue that they made. I would stand and look out over the roofs of Paris and think, ‘Do not worry. You have always written before and you will write now. All you have to do is write one true sentence. Write the truest sentence that you know.’ So finally I would write one true sentence, and then go on from there.
I think it’s my favorite because there are so many times in life when we are called to start a new story. Sometimes we see the handwriting on the wall, and we have time to prepare a few lines of our own. Other times, however, the current page of our life is suddenly ripped out of the book and we are left staring at a fresh, blank one.
What to write?
It’s times like this when Hemingway whispers…
‘Do not worry. You have always written before and you will write now. All you have to do is write one true sentence. Write the truest sentence that you know.’
For me, when life throws me a blank page, the truest sentence I know is this…
I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.
Maybe for you, it could be…
Greater is He who is in me, than he who is in the world.
Different times call for different sentences.
But here’s the thing, once you write that one true sentence, you absolutely CAN go on from there.
If you are facing an unexpected blank page today, and you’re wanting to stay where you are in the story, don’t despair. Remember that we are able to tuck the pages already written into our hearts, delicious, taking them with us into the unwritten for future feasting, true sentences to draw on when the writing of a new story is slow. For what Hemingway said of Paris, I say is true for all of life: it’s a moveable feast.
Remember, pull out a tasty truth, and write on.
Once again I’ll go over what God has done,
lay out on the table the ancient wonders;
I’ll ponder all the things you’ve accomplished,
and give a long, loving look at your acts. ~ Psalm 77:11 MSG