The other day I found a website detailing 10 Works of Literature That Were Really Hard to Write, and I read this:
According to legend, Ernest Hemingway created the shortest short story ever told, which most refer to as “Baby Shoes.” While having lunch at New York City’s famous Algonquin Round Table, Hemingway bragged that he could write a captivating tale—complete with beginning, middle, and end—in only six words. His fellow writers refused to believe him, each betting $10 that he couldn’t do it. Hemingway quickly scribbled six words down on a napkin and passed it around. As each writer read the napkin, they conceded he’d won. Those six words? “For sale. Baby shoes. Never worn.”
Most Highly Respected Anonymous Readers, those six words haunt me. My immediate, reactive response is to dismiss them as a “short story” (maybe a vignette, of sorts? Perhaps an intriguing bit of prose? But no way a short story), while my writer’s brain goes, “There’s no way I’ve suffered such long hours over my own stories to make them ‘decent,’ and someone else goes and pops out six words, on a dare, that count as a story.” But then, moments later, the rational part of my brain goes, “But wait a second…those six words? They resonate.” And then I’m off thinking about the implications in those six words and the beginning, middle, and end that are contained or implied in them, and how I tend to define a “story,” all without meaning to. Then I realize that it wasn’t just “someone,” it was a legendary jerk of a brilliant writer. And it wasn’t just “popping out six words,” since Hemmingway’s almost as famous for his shorter works, like the vignettes and short stories, as for his longer stuff. And, oh yeah, there’s also the fact that I’M NOT ERNEST HEMINGWAY. And then I feel stupid that I’m just some girl writer that’s not only NOT Ernest Hemingway, but who also isn’t writing because I’m too busy cooking a baby and dealing with Christmas and complaining about “other things” instead of complaining about “not writing” because maybe I’ve lost that writers’ edge, that drive that makes you want to write no matter what, since I’m not only Not Writing but obviously am Not Even Worried about Not Writing. See what you made me do, Ernest Hemingway? THANKS A LOT.
And I realized that this is the first time I haven’t gotten a writing itch around Christmas time. Which officially makes this the Christmas that ruins everything.
Stupid, cold, awesomely simple Christmas that officially marks the last Christmas Clayton and I are simply a “couple,” since next year we’ll be a “couple of raving lunatics with an 11-mo. old”. That has been one of the most peaceful-in-the-soul Christmases that I can remember spending in a decade or so because we decided to not really do the normal present giving this year, instead opting out to buying only for the pair of 3 yr. olds we’re either related to or close to (because they’re kids…and its friggin’ Christmas…and because that’s just what Christmas IS for kids) and two kids from our church’s Angel Tree program. That will be our first Christmas spent at our own house in VA, which is finally feeling like home enough for me to not collapse in a bawling heap in the floor at the thought of not spending with the most family and friends we can wrap around us, like a kid with a bedful of stuffed animals. That will be spent stuffing the dogs (and maybe the cats) into stupid-looking Christmas outfits for my own amusement.
Yeah…THAT kind of stupid Christmas. Stupid, ridiculous…stupid…
*looks around guiltily*
Ok, honestly? I CANNOT FRIGGIN WAIT FOR CHRISTMAS TO GET HERE!
Like, I’m so excited about it for no apparent reason, that I just want to walk around to all the unhappy-looking, harried shoppers at the mall and be like, “You will have a Merry Christmas or I will stab you.” Because it’s THAT important to me for everyone to experience the same happy feelings this holidays as I am. And I know that sounds counter-productive, but it actually does translate to happy feelings, because even though I’m threatening a stabbing, if people were just happy, then they wouldn’t be stabbed….which means they’d be happy AND they wouldn’t be stabbed, which should make them doubly-happy. See what I did there?
But I’m not going to do that. And I’ll bet you’re thinking that it’s because I don’t want to get escorted out of the mall by police because I was threatening random strangers with bodily harm, but it’s actually because Clayton and I went to Walmart the other day for one of the Angel Tree kids’ gift, and there were so many people Clayton felt claustrophobic, which takes a lot. So I know the mall would be worse. And I really don’t like dealing with random strangers. So I’ll stick with talking about it on the blog and to people I know in person who know me well enough to be all like, “Aww, that’s so sweet! You want me to be doubly-happy this year!” because they understand how I operate.
Which means that YOU WILL HAVE A MERRY CHRISTMAS, Most Highly Respected Anonymous Readers. Or else…