There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed.
– Ernest Hemingway
Key West, a nice place to bleed.
This study/ writing room/ clinic of a self-phlebotomizer, is behind wrought iron bars on the second floor of a small building in the backyard of the Hemingway House. A procession of tourists bearing brochures and smartphones pass a grove of bamboo squeaking in subtropical breezes and climb single-file the narrow stairs to stare in at the den where the master of succinct self-dramatization bled his sanguinity onto the page.
Damn that’s big.
In the main house, where Hemingway’s second of four wives Pauline removed the ceiling fans and installed chandeliers made of Venetian glass, there are many photos of Hemingway, and of his family members, and of other creatures that are bleeding, or have bled, for Ernest. Creatures with hooves and antlers, creatures with wings and feathers, a maned lion, some very big fish.
There is no hunting like the hunting of man, and those who have hunted armed men long enough and liked it, never care for anything else thereafter. – Ernest Hemingway, “On the Blue Water: A Gulfstream Letter,” Esquire magazine, April 1936.
While Hemingway was in Spain in 1937 and ’38 writing as a journalist about the Spanish Civil War, Pauline ordered construction of an in-ground pool. It cost more than twice as much as they had paid for the sturdy limestone house.
Hemingway left Pauline and went to Cuba to fish in the Gulf Stream. He married another writer. It was the shortest of his marriages because writers should never marry each other, according to Larry the tour guide at the Hemingway House.
A Hemingway feline deigns to be petted.
Many people are there only to see the cats. There are 44 of them, a number that is kept relatively constant by the keepers of the house, who are also the keepers of cat reproduction. These 44 little six-toed hunters are privileged to go where they like and do what they want for their entire lives at the corner of Whitehead and Olivia Streets.
After a visit to the house, one may overhear a daughter saying to her mother: “So Mom, you finally got to see Your Man.”
“It isn’t Hemingway and his big public self. It’s the change in writing that he influenced and was part of. Spare. Not tarted up. With lots to read between the lines, but only if you want to.”
If a writer of prose knows enough of what he is writing about he may omit things that he knows and the reader, if the writer is writing truly enough, will have a feeling of those things as strongly as though the writer had stated them. The dignity of movement of an ice-berg is due to only one-eighth of it being above water. A writer who omits things because he does not know them only makes hollow places in his writing. – Ernest Hemingway, Death in the Afternoon
Written in blood, but cold like ice. You like that kind of writing or you don’t.
(No animals were harmed and no arteries were opened in the writing of this post. But there is a small, gray, five-toed cat pretending to be asleep close by.)