I totally screwed the pooch this week. It’s the night before I usually launch my Sunday reader and I.haven’t.written.anything.yet!
So what did I do with myself this week? I was living life the Heming-way.
Ernie was the sort of guy, that if you’re anything like me, you wish you could be. Now aside from the latent alcohol abuse, infidelity, and constant search for his next fist fight I have to admit – the guy knew how to live.
When I moved home from Florida in 2009 Twenty-Five at the Lip was still in its raw, uncut, and fetal stages. It had a beginning, a middle, and an end, but it was an uproariously abysmal piece of shyt. Little Miss White Cloud, whom the book is dedicated to, is one of the few people who actually own a copy of the original text. Unless Twenty-Five becomes a literary cult classic and worth boatloads of money (I’ll try my luck with Powerball) then it should find a nice home somewhere at the bottom of the Mariana Trench.
I was stuck in the early author idea that my manuscript was fine on its own and didn’t need much revision other than the occasional spelling error or grammatical issue. I’m so glad I didn’t realize that self-publishing through Amazon was actually a thing back then because Twenty-Five would not be what it is today. It took me some serious soul-searching to come to the conclusion that I still had a lot to learn about EMS before I could truly write an EMS novel. This was when I started to pay more attention to my literary idol, Hemingway.
Hemingway is arguably one of the greatest writers of the Twentieth-century and even if you hate his guts you have to admit that he was a ballsy sort of fellow. What made him so good though was being able to channel his own experiences into writing. He was able to write several books about war by actually going to war and witnessing atrocities and fighting for causes he believed in. During the Great War he served with the Red Cross as an ambulance driver (yes, an actual ambulance driver) and his experiences in that capacity, along with falling head over heals for a nurse he knew personally helped him write one of the books he is most famous for: A Farewell to Arms.
Twenty-Five at the Lip isn’t in the same league at Farewell. If we consider A Farewell to Arms to be the majors then Twenty-Five at the Lip is a farm team in dead last place. They aren’t even close, but they were written in similar ways and upon similar occurrences; most notably the backlash of trauma from critical incidents and incredible heartbreak in relation to someone who made the sun appear dim in comparison. It was in this sense that I looked at Hemingway’s influence and acknowledged that I could relate to what he was saying on some level and that while I would never write something on the same magnitude as him, I could replicate something that emoted the same feeling in writing that I had when I read his words.
Hemingway was all about adventure and lived in a time when one could just live abroad without any heavy paperwork or permission. France loved Americans because they had helped them keep their soil for their own people against a foreign invader who had attacked them three times over the course of a century. Now we have to say we are Canadian so they don’t spit in our food. He had so many experiences in his life and was able to channel those into incredibly meaningful writing that stirs us to this very day. The Old Man and the Sea is one of his greatest works and it’s basically about a fishing trip. He even admitted that there wasn’t much deep meaning to the text, and I think that people felt a little cheated in that regard seeing as he won a Pulitzer for it.
This aside, Hemingway loved to fish and so do I. He also loved to drink and fish, which I too have found the wonders of sitting in a boat with a cooler of beer to be particularly enjoyable. There is something about being so incredibly close to nature like fishing or hunting that brings us back to a primitive and manly state. We want to take that feeling with us so we write it down so that we can read it back and remember what it felt like to feel the fish take our fly, or the stillness of the air before releasing an arrow or squeezing the trigger. There is a sense of raw power there that makes me feel exhilarated, and I wan to share that with you in written word.
There is really nothing about fishing that I find particularly relaxing. My friend Jordan told me recently that on our next excursion he just wants to sit in a canoe with a bucket of shiners and cooler of beer. He says he doesn’t want to work a fly or a lure, and I’ll admit sometimes I find it to be more trouble than it’s worth, but I find the strike of a bass on my fly and the subsequent line zing as the fish takes off to be the best part of any fishing trip. Being out in nature is only part of it, though it is appealing.
I know I’m not alone here and that may be because I live so close to urban population centers that peace and quiet is a difficult thing to come by. As fortune begins to lend my little family better opportunity (and by fortune I mean our own tenacity to work for what we deserve) I’ll be able to have better experiences with fishing and hunting, even mirco-brewing, parenting, or even being able to take my wife on that long-overdue honeymoon we’ve never been able to have or afford. Those are the things to write about that inspire us and our readers long to experience those things for themselves.
I’m reflecting on what I have in mind for other works and all combined it looks as though there are going to be somewhere in the neighborhood of 20 different titles between myself and Jeremy Brinkett as well as some other non-fiction titles. These are ideas that have touched me so profoundly that I want to share them with you as I see them in my mind and when I sit back and really think about these things it blows my mind that I can do that. You should be doing the same though, especially all of you out there in EMS, Fire and Police. These are experiences you can share and if you haven’t said it yourself you’ve heard the suggestion about writing a book about what really goes on.
So I invite you to do it, to live life the Heming-way. Imbibe in good food and drink. Take the time to reclaim your sanity and your human essence and go out and get dirty. When you are working do your job to the best of your ability and proudly represent the uniform you wear regardless of how you feel about your employer because in the end you are really representing yourself. Living life the Heming-way is about taking these experiences and recording them (with proper regard given to conserving identities and dignity) because nobody can tell your story better than you can be it fiction or nonfiction.
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