Hemingway’s loveliest lines from A Moveable Feast reflect his feelings on writing, love and navigating dark times.

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The closest Ernest Hemingway ever came to writing a memoir was A Moveable Feast, where he reflected on his time living in Paris as a struggling writer with his first wife Hadley Richardson and their son, Jack (or ‘Bumby’).

I’ve riffled through a countless number of Hemingway’s works and I adore this particular book for both his writing about writing and his writing about Hadley — which he believed to be the love of his life despite (or perhaps in spite) of wives two, three and four.

There’s plenty to unpack in this wonderful book.

So, onward…

20 quotes worth knowing from A Moveable Feast.

Between measuring dicks with Scott Fitzgerald to getting socked with a milk jug by the late great poet Ezra Pound to falling in love with a life-long muse, please keep in mind these lines and quotes will only allow tiny glimpses into the masterpiece that is A Moveable Feast. I highly (highly) recommend you read it in full.

But, for the time being, here are those glimpses…

  1. On lusting…

“She was very pretty with a face fresh as a newly minted coin if they minted coins in smooth flesh with rain-freshened skin; and her hair black as a crow’s wing and cut sharply and diagonally across her cheek.”

2. On traveling…

“Never go on trips with anyone you do not love.”

3. On wintering…

“You expected to be sad in the fall. Part of you died each year when the leaves fell from the trees and their branches were bare against the wind and the cold, wintery light. But you knew there would always be the spring, as you knew the river would flow again after it was frozen.”

4. On ‘noveling’…

“The story was writing itself and I was having a hard time keeping up with it.”

5. On editing…

“The only kind of writing is rewriting.”

6. On feeling (after writing)…

“After writing a story I always felt empty and both sad and happy, as though I had made love…”

7. On working…

“It was wonderful to walk down the long flights of stairs knowing that I’d had good luck working. I always worked until I had something done and I always stopped when I knew what was going to happen next. That way I could be sure of going on the next day.”

8. On falling…

“We ate well and cheaply and drank well and cheaply and slept well and warm together and loved each other.”

9. On dealing (with writer’s block)…

“… 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.”

10. On fighting…

“For a poet he threw a very accurate milk bottle.”

11. More dealing (with writer’s block)…

“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.”

12. On bettering…

“Since I had started to break down all my writing and get rid of all facility and try to make instead of describe, writing had been wonderful to do.”

13. On nearing (the end)…

“My,” she said. “We’re lucky that you found the place.” “We’re always lucky,” I said and like a fool I did not knock on wood. There was wood everywhere in that apartment to knock on too.”

14. On healing..

“When the cold rains kept on and killed the spring, it was as though a young person had died for no reason.”

15. On writing (tomorrow)…

“I had learned already never to empty the well of my writing; but always to stop when there was still something there in the deep part of the well, and let it refill at night from the spring that fed it.”

16. On laughing…

“They say the seeds of what we will do are in all of us, but it always seemed to me that in those who make jokes in life the seeds are covered with better soil and with a higher grade of manure.”

17. On supporting (friends)…

“He liked the works of his friends, which is beautiful as loyalty but can be disastrous as judgment.”

18. On telling (yourself stories)…

“It never occurred to me until many years later that anyone could hate anyone because they had learned to write conversation from that novel that started off with the quotation from the garage keeper.”

19. On dreaming…

“… jumping beautifully by himself the way one can sometimes jump in dreams.”

21. On writing (in the first person)…

“When you first start writing stories in the first person, if the stories are made so real that people believe them, the people reading them nearly always think the stories really happened to you. That is natural because while you were making them up you had to make them happen to the person who was telling them. If you do this successfully enough, you make the person who is reading them believe that the things happened to him too. If you can do this you are beginning to get what you are trying for, which is to make something that will become a part of the reader’s experience and a part of his memory.”

This, of course, isn’t the only piece I’ve written on Hemingway. If you’re familiar with myself and Honey Copy, you’re aware that he is a constant source of inspiration for me.

Lastly, if this piece made you feel something, consider perusing my pieces on Ernest Hemingway’s relationship with alcohol and the beautiful advice he gives on writing one true sentence.

By Cole Schafer.

You gotta check this out — Sticky Notes is my email list reserved strictly for entrepreneurs and creatives looking to sell like a Florida Snow Cone Vendor on the hottest day of the year.

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I write pretty words and sometimes sell things. https://coleschafer.com/subscribe

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