Chapter 2 (of 20) Miss Stein Instructs
Chapter 1 (of 20), A Good Café on the Place St-Michael, will take you back in time to the story that began my French culinary experiences while reading A Moveable Feast, chapter by chapter. From there, each chapter will take you to the next chapter and culinary experience
“If you are lucky enough to have lived in Paris as a young man, then wherever you go for the rest of your life, it stays with you, for Paris is a moveable feast.” Ernest Hemingway.
Chapter 2 (of 20) Miss Stein Instructs, accompanied by coffee and a croissant, consumed on a bench in Elder Gardens, Spitalfields London.
Notes From Chapter 2: Miss Stein Instructs
A WorkLife Book Club For One
Notes about Writing
“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. So finally I would write one true sentence, and then go on from there. It was easy then because there was always one true sentence that I knew or had seen or had heard someone say.”
In this passage, Hemmingway was talking about how sometimes, when he was starting a new story and could not get it going, he would use this approach of writing one true sentence.
I, too, have had times when starting something new – a story, a chapter, a book, an assignment, a project … when I couldn’t get it going. I have my own ways of pushing through – at times, that’s literally pushing through and getting words on the page
At other times I take myself away from what I’m working on and tap into The Three B’s of Creative Thinking.
Bus – which for me is moving, i.e. I take a walk and let my mind wander and wonder, and ideas will seep in.
Bath – I turn my bath into a sanctuary with wonderfully fragrant bubbles, and ideas will bubble up.
Bed – I sleep on it, and Ideas will come to me in my dreams or on awakening.
The Three B’s of Creative Thinking are part of my toolbox as a writer, creator and storyteller.
It’s my toolbox that helps me self-direct my learning.
I love adding to that toolbox,
I love anything that helps me self-direct my learning.
I especially love anything that helps the learning by doing approach I’ve always taken in my WorkLife.
Writing one true sentence. Writing the truest sentence I know and then going from there is going into my toolbox of self-directed learning – my learning by doing collection of tools.
“Up in that room I decided that I would write one true story about each thing that I knew about. I was trying to do this all the time I was writing, and it was good and severe discipline.”
I liked learning how Hemingway wrote one true story about each thing he knew about.
I’m a reflective soul. I like to think things through. Writing them down helps me to do that. It’s my natural way of doing, of being, and it comes easily to me.
Speaking those words aloud, succinctly, clearly and in an interesting manner that draws people in doesn’t come as easily and naturally to me.
Impromptu speaking is certainly not my forte. It takes me out of my comfort zone, that’s for sure.
There was a time when giving a talk or delivering a workshop caused many a sleepless night because I was so incredibly nervous when speaking in front of people that I would be physically ill.
Writing down what I wanted to say and then learning it helped me overcome the crippling fear I had of speaking in public.
Writing it down and then speaking the words aloud (at home to an audience of nobody) helped me craft a talk or workshop in a way that drew people in because it was succinct, clear and interesting.
It’s a practice that has worked well for me. It’s also a practice that I want to get better at. To do that, I will adopt Hemmingway’s approach of writing one true story about everything he knew about.
I want and need to do this because I want to expand my range of stories. I want to develop them in a way that I can tap into the right story at the right time in all my WorkLife situations.
That’s important because, as Patrick Winston shared in his:
Words of Wisdom
“Your success in life will be determined largely by your ability to speak, your ability to write, and the quality of your ideas.”
For me, that’s all connected to self-directed learning. My preferred way of learning.
That’s going into my toolbox to help me self-direct my learning by doing.
I liked learning about how Hemingway developed discipline in his work.
It’s something I’ve had to learn as a writer and creator and also as someone who works independently.
It hasn’t always come easily, and there are still times when I could do better, that’s for sure.
I like Hemingway’s words as a reminder to myself about the importance of discipline because I’ve learnt that discipline enables freedom.
“It was up in that room that I learned not to think about anything I was writing from the time I stopped writing until I started again the next day. That way my subconscious would be working on it and at the same time I would be listening to other people and noticing everything. I hoped; learning, I hoped; and I would read so that I would not think about my work and make myself impotent to it. Going down the stairs when I had worked well, and that needed luck as well as discipline, was a wonderful feeling and I was free then to walk anywhere in Paris.”
I struggled to stop to write.
It’s what led me to write 10/12/14 hours a day, 6/7 days a week.
It’s what led to not taking care of my health and well-being.
It’s what led to my burnout.
In time it’s what led me to prioritising three hours a day to take care of my health and wellbeing.
In time it’s what led me to walk for three hours a day.
Sometimes I walk for three hours first thing in the morning. And that’s wonderful because it sets me up in such a positive way for the rest of the day.
Sometimes I work first and then walk in the afternoon. And that’s wonderful because I walk freely, knowing I’ve done good work.
Sometimes I walk late evening. And that’s wonderful because, in a slow and relaxed way, I soak up the nighttime atmosphere of the city.
I’ve reduced my time at my laptop to six hours, during which I research, write and create.
I also read for one to three hours a day. It’s still work because as a writer, learning practitioner and creator, reading is an important part of my craft. It’s just that it’s away from my laptop.
As with Hemingway, it also helps me not to think about my work.
I’m striving to work no more than 8 hours a day, 5 days a week – I’m not quite there with it, but I am getting better.
Anyway, getting stuck in and writing for six hours first thing in the morning means that by early afternoon I’m free to walk anywhere in London.
It’s that discipline enabling freedom principle again.
I still like to mix it up by also walking first thing in the morning or last thing at night to experience the city at different times of the day. And for me, I already have the discipline of writing. I know that will happen. It’s the discipline of stopping to write and the discipline of walking that I need to get better at. Because that discipline, too, will enable freedom – the freedom that comes from a clear mind and the freedom that comes from good mind and body health and wellbeing.
Unlike Hemingway, I’m not quite there with not thinking about anything I’m writing until I start again the next day. It’s a work in progress and that’s good enough for now.
Hemingway’s practice is a good practice, and it’s one that I want to adopt. I’m doing that by adapting The Three B’s of Creativity in my approach. That’s helping my subconscious mind to work on it, as opposed to my conscious mind.
There’s still a lot of room for improvement. But I am getting there. And that’s good enough, for now.
Notes about Miss Stein
“That afternoon she told us, too, how to buy pictures.”
“You can either buy clothes or buy pictures, she said. It’s that simple. No one who is not very rich can do both.”
“But even if I never bought anymore clothing ever, I said, I wouldn’t have enough money to buy the Picasso’s that I want.”
“No, he’s out of your range. You have to buy the people of your own age. You’ll know them. You’ll meet them around the quarter. There are always good new serious painters.”
I like the character, Miss Stein, and her way of thinking about how to buy pictures.
I love art, and I would love to have more art hanging on my wall.
But I always thought I couldn’t afford it.
Miss Stein has challenged that thinking for me.
I live in Shoreditch, London. It’s a wonderfully creative neighbourhood that draws an eclectic mix of amazingly talented artists – the good new serious painters that Miss Stein talks about. I need to follow Miss Stein’s advice and get to know them.
Then, I, too, can buy pictures.
Notes about a Park
It was sad when the park was closed and locked and I was sad walking around it instead of through it.
Elder Gardens, where I read today’s chapter over a coffee and a croissant, is a London pocket park, or actually a little garden. It was closed during the pandemic, and that made me sad.
Sometimes it takes something we enjoy and love but perhaps take for granted to be closed and locked before we fully appreciate it. Then we become sad because it is no longer.
I liked having that lesson which I learnt during the pandemic, reinforced through Hemingway’s words as I sat and read this morning in Elder Gardens over coffee and a croissant.
I like that I’m making connections because that’s what storytelling is about.
I like learning through reading. Learning through and from other people and their WorkLife experiences, and also relating that learning to my WorkLife experiences and learning about myself through that.
I like to then apply those lessons to my WorkLife to embrace my learning by doing approach of self-directed learning.
I’m not sure when I’ll read the next chapter of A Moveable Feast over a glass and a plate.
It most likely will be another spontaneous happening. It may take a little planning to keep the French theme going, or, as with today, it may not.
… Let’s see where A Moveable Feast is going to take me …
The Continuing Story …
… I can now share where Chapter 3 (of 20) Une Génération Perdue took me …
The Three B’s of Creative Thinking are from chapter 15 of my book (and accompanying workbook), Your WorkLife Your Way: Creative Thinking: If You Have a Problem or Question you also have the Ability to Cope and the Answer is Within You. It also featured in The School of WorkLife book: How To Be Creative In Your Thinking. (Tap on the titles for inside views of the books).
Today’s coffee was from Black Sheep Coffee, Principal Place (nestled underneath the Amazon flagship office building located on the cusp of Shoreditch and the City in London). I chose it because it’s really good coffee. There’s nothing particularly French about it, but their slogan “Leave The Herd Behind, somehow, for me, connected to Hemmingway’s time in Paris. “He recalls the time when, poor, happy and writing in cafes, he discovered his vocation.” To keep the French Theme of A Moveable Feast I savoured a croissant.
Se souvenir de toi, Norma.
#funfact1 Elder Gardens is a public garden located close to Lamb Street and Folgate Street near Old Spitalfields Market. London City Gardens (parks, gardens & church yards) are sometimes known as ‘pocket parks’.
Old Spitalfields Market is a great resource to keep up to date with what’s happening in the market and wider in East London too – In their own words – “From Castles and City Farms to community-centred galleries, we have you covered for a well-rounded day out in East London”.
#funfact2 Elder Gardens is bisected by Nantes Passage. Nantes Passage was built for Huguenot weavers. (Source The Underground Map).
Spitalfields Forum is a helpful resource if you want to discover and explore Parks and Gardens in Spitalfields.
Spitalfields Life by the Gentle Author is an excellent resource to learn about the history of East London – its people, its landmarks and its culture.
#funfact3 French Huguenots, a religious group of French Protestants, fled persecution in France. Those who settled in Shoreditch built houses distinguishable by their elegant wooden doors and shutters and have especially high attic windows. These were built for a very specific purpose, the Huguenots were mainly master silk weavers, and by placing their spinning wheel in the attic, they could benefit from natural daylight, allowing them to work as long as possible into the evening. One particular house of note is Dennis Severs’ House in Folgate Street. Woven through the house is the story of the fictional Jervis family, Huguenot silk weavers who lived at the house from 1725 to 1919. (Source WorkLife Book Club – my book).
School of WorkLife helps you self-direct your WorkLife learning through resources that have been created to help you to take ownership of your learning in your own space and in your own time.
What is Self Directed Learning?
Self-Directed Learning is when an individual is motivated to take the initiative and responsibility on decisions related to their own learning. It is a series of independent actions and judgements free from external control and constraint.
Resources to Help You Self-Direct Your Learning
You may want to self-direct your learning by starting your WorkLife Book Club For One, For Two, or for more people. Guidelines for Starting and Running Your WorkLife Book Club will help you do that.
You may find the books below from The School of WorkLife Book Series helpful in meeting your learning needs as a self directed learner. Tap the book title to see a preview of what’s inside each book.
How To Let Curiosity Be Your Driving Force
How To Self-Coach, Direct and Lead Effectively
You can view the complete collection here: The School of WorkLife Book Series
Carmel O’ Reilly is a learning practitioner and writer. She creates resources to help people self-direct their WorkLife learning. These include a Collection of Books which originated from her first book, Your WorkLife Your Way and a Learn Through Reading Series of Case Studies. which originated from her latest book WorkLife Book Club.
That’s the power of writing (and reading, which is an integral part of the craft for writers), it helps you find, develop and tell the right story at the right time in all WorkLife situations – in day-to-day communication: WorkLife and feedback conversations, presentations, talks, and negotiations, at interviews, and when socialising and networking in building and maintaining good relationships. The practice of writing helps you to tell the stories that express who you are in an interesting and engaging way.