Chapter 8 (of 20) Hunger Was Good Discipline
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 8 (of 20) Hunger Was Good Discipline, accompanied by Crèpe La Classique paired with a glass of Mon Roc Blanc, Colombard, France, at La Petite Auberge, Islington.
Notes From Chapter 8: Hunger Was Good Discipline
A WorkLife Book Club For One
Notes about Hunger and Money
You got very hungry when you did not eat enough in Paris because all the bakery shops had such good things in the windows and people ate outside at tables on the sidewalk so that you saw and smelled the food. When you had given up journalism and were writing nothing that anyone in America would buy, explaining at home that you were lunching out with someone, the best place to go was the Luxembourg gardens where you saw and smelled nothing to eat all the way from the Place de l’Observatoire to the rue de Vaugirard. There you could always go into the Luxembourg museum and all the paintings were sharper and clearer and more beautiful if you were belly-empty, hollow-hungry. I learned to understand Cèzanne much better and to see truly how he made landscapes when I was hungry. I used to wonder if he were hungry too when he painted; but I thought possibly it was only that he had forgotten to eat. It was one of those unsound but illuminating thoughts you have when you’ve been sleepless or hungry. Later I thought Cèzanne was hungry in a different way.
By the time you reached 12 rue de l’Odèon your hunger was contained but all of your perceptions were heightened again. The photographs looked different and you saw books you had never seen before.
‘It’s dammed funny that Germany is the only place I can sell anything.’
‘You can sell stories to Ford,’ she teased me.
‘Thirty francs a page. Say one story every three months in the Transatlantic. Story five pages long make one hundred and fifty francs a quarter. Six hundred francs a year.’
‘But, Hemingway, don’t worry about what they bring now. The point is that you can write them.’
‘I know. I can write them. But nobody will buy them. There is no money coming in since I quit Journalism.’
‘They will sell. Look you have the money for one right there.’
It is necessary to handle yourself better when you have to cut down on food so you will not get too much hunger-thinking. Hunger is good discipline and you learn from it.
I knew I must write a novel. But it seemed an impossible thing to do when I had been trying with great difficulty to write paragraphs that would be the distillation of what made a novel. It was necessary to write longer stories now as you would train for a race. When I had written a novel before, the one that had been lost in the bag stolen at the Gare de Lyon, I still had the lyric facility of boyhood that was as perishable and deceptive as youth was.
What did I know best that was not written about and lost? What did I know about truly and care for the most?
I sat in a corner with the afternoon light coming in over my shoulder and wrote in the notebook.
In my pocket was the money from Germany so there was no problem. When that was gone some other money would come in.
All I must do now was to stay sound and good in my head until morning when I would start to work again.
I enjoy Hemingway’s ‘Musings’ about his situation. I think perhaps because I dip in and out of a practice I call “Daily Musings’. I dip in and out of writing them down, but I ‘Muse’ all the time in my thinking. And also in my reading, particularly throughout reading this chapter. Because Hemingway’s ‘Musings’ are very much aligned with my own ‘Musings’ at this particular time.
Not on the hunger for food that he wrote about, but more on the hunger for success he wanted and needed in his work. I can certainly relate to that.
I suppose, in a way, I’m at the same place in and with my work as Hemingway was at that time in his life.
He had given up journalism to become a writer of stories and, in time, a novel. He wanted and needed to financially support his living and lifestyle wants and needs from this work.
Because the pandemic brought about an abrupt halt to the coaching and training work I’ve done for many years, I moved towards writing and creating learning resources. I had, in fact, written my first book, Your WorkLife Your Way, just before the pandemic hit, and so, in a sense, the shift had already begun. The pandemic served to escalate it when with no other work, I set about building both a body of work and also to develop my skills in what was a new craft to me.
What would you do if you didn’t have to work for a living?
This is a question that’s often asked to determine a person’s passion or purpose in life.
For me, the answer is Writing. I love it. I can easily write from dawn to dusk, having to remind myself to stop and eat. And it’s true, my perceptions are higher then, and when I stop to eat, they become a little dulled.
So I’ve found the thing I love doing. But I do need to earn a living from it. And I’m not.
I feel I’ve served my apprenticeship to becoming a writer. I took a learning-by-doing approach by writing and sharing 100s of stories on my website and other writing platforms and also publishing 30 books over the course of three years. I’ve had a little success, but nothing close to what I want and need to support my living and lifestyle wants and needs.
While I know, I’m at the beginning of my WorkLife journey as a writer. I feel I’ve done enough to embark on the next chapter. For me, that means to somehow begin to earn that elusive monetary success that I so want and need.
I’m mulling over some ideas of what that could be. My books are already out in the world, and so I will continue to work towards helping people find them amongst the millions of new books that are published each year. But I want and need to do something else alongside this.
Whereas Hemingway began by selling stories first and then his books, I did it the other way around. And now I think I would like to sell stories. I actually can’t think of anything better than having regular paid work writing stories that would financially support me.
That would be a dream come true for me. It would mean I could work and live anywhere in the world. That would be another dream come true for me. A dream I began to strive towards when I wrote my first book, even before the pandemic brought about the change in my WorkLife. It’s a dream that, for me, answers the question:
What will I be doing at the pinnacle of my WorkLife, when I feel challenged, engaged and not wanting anything else?
I feel I’m at the place where Hemingway was at, in that I know I can write stories. But I fear nobody will buy them. There is little money coming in since I quit delivering live learning events. But that said, I haven’t tried to sell stories yet, and people (albeit only a relatively few people) have bought my books.
So I’m really at a place where I need to try to sell stories, and I need to figure out how to do that. Hemingway’s ‘Musings’ have helped me to get to this place through my own ‘Musings’ in reading this chapter and writing my chapter notes.
Yet again, my Worklife Book Club For 1 is helping me self direct my WorkLife learning, which brings me to Hemingway’s question:
What do I know about truly and care for the most?
The hunger I have for success in my work is good discipline, and I am learning from it, which makes that question easy for me to answer.
The stories I’ve always written are based on real WorkLife struggles and successes. In creating these stories, I follow the criteria that they have to be Helpful, Insightful and Inspiring to readers in navigating through their WorkLife ups and downs.
So I know what I want and need to do. I now need to get on with it.
Words of Wisdom
As with Hemingway, I will continue to muse in my notebook. I’ll choose to believe that some other money will come in when what I have now is gone. And all I must do now is to stay sound and good in my head until morning when I will start to work again.
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 I walk and explore and discover, it may not.
… Let’s see where A Moveable Feast is going to take me …
… I can now share where Chapter 9 (of 20) Ford Madox Ford and the Devil’s Disciple took me …
Today I enjoyed Crèpe La Classique paired with a glass of Mon Roc Blanc, Colombard, France at La Petite Auberge, Islington.
Se souvenir de toi, Norma.
#FUNFACT1 In France, crêpes are traditionally served on the Christian holiday Candlemas (La Chandeleur). On February 2. In 472, Roman Pope Gelasius offered Crispus (Crêpes) to French pilgrims that were visiting Rome for the Chandeleur. They brought the dish back to France, and the day also became known as “Le Jour des Crêpes” (“The Day of the Crêpes”). The day is also celebrated by many as a day marking the transition from winter to spring, with the golden colour and circular shape of crêpes representing the sun and the circle of life.
#FUNFACT2 There are various superstitions surrounding making crêpes for Le Jour des Crêpes. Holding a gold coin or ring in one’s left hand while successfully flipping a crêpe in a pan with one’s right hand is said to bring the person wealth for the upcoming year. (Maybe I should try that at home!).
#FUNFACT3 Eating and sharing crêpes with others on Candlemas is another tradition based on popes giving food to the poor every year on February 2. A French proverb describes the tradition of eating crêpes on Candlemas, “manger des crêpes à la chandeleur apporte un an de bonheur” (eating crêpes on Candlemas brings a year of happiness).
Here’s a pic of my pancake on the griddle, ready to be sprinkled with sugar and a squeeze of lemon.
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.
You can view the complete collection here: The School of WorkLife Book Series.
Founder of School of WorkLife, 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.