Very

Last night I started reading “The Sun Also Rises” by Ernest Hemingway, a book I’ve read a long time ago but felt like reading again. On the first few pages, I noticed that the word “very” was used quite a few times—sometimes twice in one page. I immediately remembered the quote by Mark Twain:

Substitute “damn” every time you’re inclined to write “very”; your editor will delete it and the writing will be just as it should be.

Very interesting, isn’t it? I guess the lesson here is this: there are many rules when it comes to writing, but every writer can also break some of these rules and even make up their own rules. I think it is what makes each writer unique.

 

Why You Should Write a Personal Story

ThisIsMyStory

I read an interesting article recently about how publishing personal stories could be the quickest way to the top—regardless if you’ve never been published before.

Apparently, publishers, and even Hollywood executives want stories that are unique and dramatic. A good example that comes to mind is, “Running with Scissors” by Augusten Burroughs.

Hemingway once said that “the earliest training for a writer is an unhappy childhood.” I can definitely see why that is. The pen seems to hit the paper more when you’ve lived a life full of ups and downs, especially at an early age. My childhood was definitely a mixed bag of challenges. Life wasn’t perfect at all, but I wouldn’t say my childhood was just unhappy. Despite it all, there were a lot of little happy things that happened too.

I’ve thought about writing a personal story once or twice before, but I’ve always held myself back. I somehow feel that it would be too hard for me to write one. Hard, because I would probably be too emotional and too involved that by the time I finished writing, I’d be an absolute mess…but maybe not. Maybe I’d feel better. Relieved. Liberated.

So yes, maybe I will write one.

How about you? Would you write a personal story?

Click here to read the article.

A Little Hemingway for Today

From one of my favorite books: A Moveable Feast, by Ernest Hemingway

“When spring came, even the false spring, there were no problems except where to be happiest. The only thing that could spoil a day was people and if you could keep from making engagements, each day had no limits. People were always the limiters of happiness except for the very few that were as good as spring itself.”
-Hemingway (A Moveable Feast)

 

Quote of the Day

Write drunk; edit sober.
— Ernest Hemingway

Hmm, maybe that’s my problem—I write sober and edit drunk. I’m kidding. I haven’t tried drinking and writing, but I may have to one of these days. 😉

My Week in Paris: Day 2

I woke up at 4 a.m. and couldn’t sleep back. I spent the first few hours of my day reading the rest of the manuscripts. I couldn’t wait to finish them so I could explore city.

I left my hotel around 9 a.m. for a nice breakfast at a café close to my hotel. From there, I headed to my first destination of the day—The Shakespeare and Company bookstore on 37 rue de la Bûcherie.

Yes. I finally went. 

It felt great being there. I wish I had more time to browse around, sit and read books, but I had other things planned for the day. I took a few pictures to share with you. You’ll notice beds and typewriters next to shelves of books. There are chairs where people can sit and read quietly. It is such a great place for writers. They often have events and workshops that cater to writers. Thank you Sylvia Beach for her wonderful idea of starting this English bookstore and lending library (originally at a different location), and for George Whitman who continued her traditions and allowing writers to stay for free. Sadly, George recently passed away, just two days after his 98th birthday. His daughter, Sylvia, now continues to run the store.

I took a bunch of pictures so I can share my experience with you. The place was quite crowded. It’s not a big bookstore so there isn’t much room to move around.

After visiting the bookstore, I met up with a relative of mine who lives in Paris. We walked under the pouring rain to Café de Flore, one of the places I wanted to check out. Well, it’s nothing like it used to be. Back in the 1920’s, it was one of the places writers like Hemingway and Fitzgerald frequently went to, among other places. Now, it’s overcrowded with tourists. I wasn’t expecting it to be same as it was back in the day, but I did hope I would see a few writers busy with their craft. No luck there. Regardless, it was still nice to finally sit there and know I had coffee at a café that has so much history.

Right next to Café de Flore is another café The Lost Generation visited regularly—Les Deux Magots. It was also crowded.

Time flew and before I knew it, I had to rush back to attend the opening ceremony of the Writers Workshop. I had a nice time meeting and greeting other writers and our teacher. It was interesting seeing the faces of the people who wrote the stories I read ahead of time. After our meet and greet, we had a wine tasting treat. We learned how to drink wine…the right way.

One thing that stood out during the ceremony was how majority of the people attending are women. I think I saw about 5 men, including our teacher, and the rest (about 50) were women. Go figure.

I look forward to tomorrow’s first day of class. We are going over 2 stories from our classmates and the topic of discussion will be: Structure and plot.

I’ll tell you all about it tomorrow.

Good night.

What’s Your Favorite Bookstore?

I love Amazon.com. I can search for books and read excerpts whenever I want. But there is still something addicting about going to an actual bookstore. Flipping through pages from different books and scanning through them awakens me and inspires me to write. Bookstores excite me just as much as coffee shops do. It may sound odd to others, but if you’re a writer, I’m sure you know what I mean.

I prefer independent bookstores because they have a lot of character. This weekend, I went to a local bookstore in San Francisco called, Dog Eared Books. It’s got a great selection of used and new books. I could stay there for hours. I spent most of my time checking out their Hemingway selection, gazing over a few books from Fitzgerald and staring at James Joyce’s Ulysses.

After gleefully walking around for almost an hour and holding on to a few books, I narrowed them down to two and purchased them.

Dog Eared Books is a nice bookstore, but it’s not my favorite.

My favorite bookstore is actually one I’ve never stepped foot in. It’s silly, I know, but after I tell you which one it is, I think you will understand why.

It’s Shakespeare and Company. An English-language bookstore located at 37 rue de la Bûcherie in Paris’s Left Bank. It was opened my George Whitman in August 1951. It was originally called “Le Mistral” but later changed to “Shakespeare and Company” in 1964 as a tribute to Sylvia Beach’s bookstore. Sylvia Beach opened the original bookstore in a different location in 1919. It was where Hemingway, Ezra Pound, Ford Maddox Ford and James Joyce frequently gathered.

Shakespeare and Company is a unique bookshop where you can find rare books, among others. It even has sleeping quarters for writers who would like to spend the night. George refers to them as Tumbleweeds. It is said that about 40,000 have slept in the bookstore through the years. Amazing.

Sadly, George Whitman died in the apartment above his bookstore on December 14, 2011. He was 98 years old. He has brought so many readers and writers into his shop and continues to welcome visitors around the world. A message that appears in his store says it all: “Be not inhospitable to strangers lest they be angels in disguise.”

I spent a week in Paris years ago and failed to visit Shakespeare and Company (I am still kicking myself for it). I didn’t know of it then. It was only after I came home and flipped through a book of Paris my dad had given me that I was introduced to it. A picture of the front of the shop grabbed me and never let me go. That was when my obsession with the bookstore and The Lost Generation began.

I promise to stop by, possibly even spend the night there the next time I go to Paris. There is something magical about the thought of thumbing through books that have been touched and read by so many. To be surrounded by the rich history of the place is something I would not want to miss.

What’s your favorite bookstore?

Favorite Writing Tip

Today’s post will be a little different. Instead of me posting a Writing Tip of the Day, I thought I’d try something new and ask you: “What’s your favorite writing tip/advice?

I’ll start. My favorite writing tip is from Ernest Hemingway:
Use short sentences.

Plain and simple. So, what’s yours?

What’s your favorite book and why?

I’d like to know what your favorite book is (if you have more than one, that’s cool too) and tell me why. What makes it stand out from all the other books? Why do you like it?

My favorite book is The Paris Wife, by Paula McLain.

I love this book because the author does a superb job capturing the life of Ernest Hemingway during his time in Paris in the 1920’s, with his wife Hadley.

This book made me fall in love with Hemingway and Hadley. I feel like I got to know Hemingway, Hadley and the rest of The Lost Generation. This book showed me how much work Hemingway put into his words. How he toiled and gave his passion for writing his all. That inspires me. It reminds me that writing is hard work. Writing is passion. And as life goes on, through all the ups and downs, if you want to become a writer—there are no excuses. A writer keeps on writing…no matter what.

It’s your turn. What’s your favorite book and why?

What’s your favorite book and why?

I’d like to know what your favorite book is (if you have more than one, that’s cool too) and tell me why. What makes it stand out from all the other books? Why do you like it?

My favorite book is The Paris Wife, by Paula McLain.

I love this book because the author does a superb job capturing the life of Ernest Hemingway during his time in Paris in the 1920’s, with his wife Hadley.

This book made me fall in love with Hemingway and Hadley. I feel like I got to know Hemingway, Hadley and the rest of The Lost Generation. This book showed me how much work Hemingway put into his words. How he toiled and gave his passion for writing his all. That inspires me. It reminds me that writing is hard work. Writing is passion. And as life goes on, through all the ups and downs, if you want to become a writer—there are no excuses. A writer keeps on writing…no matter what.

It’s your turn. What’s your favorite book and why?

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year!

Where the hell have I been? I haven’t written in so long, I feel so lost.

I’ll spare you the details regarding my short absence in the blogging world. Let’s just say, there was brain surgery involved, and then the holidays. Now I’m back, and there’s a lot of catching up to do. First thing on my list—WRITE…anything.

Whenever I feel uninspired to write, I think of Paris in the 1920’s. I spend endless hours thinking about “The Lost Generation.” This always does the trick for me. Imagining myself writing bits and pieces of my novel in a little notebook, scribbling words while sipping coffee, while pretending I am friends with Hemingway, Fitzgerald, Pound and Stein. And of course, at some point, I wake up to reality and find myself typing away on my computer. Other times, all I need to do is listen to Edith Piaf and I’m back on track.

I NEED to edit my second novel! It’s my New Year’s Resolution.

What’s yours?