Chapter 3 (of 20) Une Génération Perdue
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 3 (of 20) Une Génération Perdue, accompanied by coffee and a brioche bun, consumed at L’eau à La Bouche Delicatessen & Café on Broadway Market.
Notes From Chapter 3: Une Génération Perdue
A WorkLife Book Club For One
Notes about Writing and Reading
“When I was writing, it was necessary for me to read after I had written. If you kept thinking about it, you would lose the thing you were writing before you could go on with the next day. It was necessary to get exercise to be tired in the body.”
“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 springs that fed it.”
There’s a lesson in Hemingway’s words for me. One that I learnt the hard way.
Because, unlike Hemingway, I didn’t know to stop writing. Instead, when I was in the flow, I wrote from dawn well into the night.
I stopped exercising. I stopped taking time to shop for and cook healthy food. Instead, I consumed store cupboard staples with little nutrition. I had pasta with a processed tomato sauce for more days than I care to remember.
The impact of lack of exercise and nutritious food took a toll on my physical and mental health and wellbeing, and I became quite unwell.
It’s taking time for me to recover fully.
I wish I had Hemingway’s insightful wisdom when I began writing.
But I do now, albeit through a lesson learned the hard way …
And as for reading when I’m writing.
When I’m writing short stories, I very much take Hemingway’s approach of reading after I’ve written.
But when I’m working on a book, I don’t stop to read. Unlike Hemingway, I want to keep thinking about it, and perhaps I’m scared if I stop, I will lose the thing I was writing. And so I will empty the well of my writing and will remain in the deep part of the well into the deep part of the night until I’ve done that. And then wake up and do it all over again the next day.
But now that I’ve finished my book and I’m back to writing short stories, and I’m back to walking and reading, I’m discovering that I’m not losing what I was writing. In fact, it’s the opposite. I’m having new thoughts of ways to continue with a story or thoughts for a new story.
I now recognise Hemingway’s insightful wisdom in his approach to writing and taking time to read, exercise and sleep in the knowledge that these actions fed the springs of the well of his writing.
Albeit I came to recognise that wisdom the hard way, I’m OK with that. Because I needed to make that discovery for myself.
“If you don’t want to read what is bad, and want to read something that will hold your interest and is marvellous in its own way, you should read Marie Belloc Lowndes”.
“I had never heard of her, and Miss Stein loaned me The Lodger, that marvellous story of Jack the Ripper and another book about murder at a place outside Paris that could only be Enghien les Bains. There were both splendid after-work books”.
I love being reminded of how I so often find the next book in the current book I’m reading or through a recommendation.
I also love being reminded suspense books are splendid after-work reading.
“Suspense fiction – thrillers and mysteries are my favourite night-time read. They help me to switch off. It seems contradictory, but they help to relax my mind and unwind and feel ready for sleep. I couldn’t understand why this was at first, as with all paradoxes, I had to figure it out. What I figured was that in the same way we need physical exercise to maintain good health and wellbeing, we also need to work out our brain to keep it in peak condition. Thrillers and mysteries help achieve this because they provide puzzles to work through. A good workout – physical or mental – aids better sleep”. These words are from the character Maggie in my book, WorkLife Book Club.
Notes about Character
“It was when we had come back from Canada and were living in the rue Notre-Dame-des-Champs and Miss Stein and I were still good friends that Miss Stein made the remark about the lost generation. She had some ignition trouble with the old Model T Ford she then drove and the young man who worked in the garage and had served in the last year of the war had not been adept, or perhaps had not broken the priority of other vehicles, in repairing Miss Stein’s Ford. Anyway he had not be serieux enough and had been corrected severely by the patron of the garage after Miss Stein’s protest. The patron had said to him, ‘you are all a génération perdue’.”
“That’s what you are. That’s what you all are,’ Miss Stein said. ‘All of you young people who served in the war. You are a lost generation.”
“That evening as I was walking home … I thought of Miss Stein … and egotism and mental laziness versus discipline and I thought who is calling who a lost generation?”
“I thought that all generations were lost by something and always had been and always would be.”
… “and I thought, I will do my best to serve her and see she gets justice for the good work she has done, as long as I can, so help me God and Mike Ney. But to hell with her lost-generation talk and all the dirty, easy labels.”
I, too, cannot abide ‘dirty, easy labels’.
I, too, cannot abide generalisations, such as … all of you young (or old) people … but I, too, can now recognise the truth in Hemingway’s words, “that all generations were lost by something and always had been and always would be.”
Through the development of the story, I’m enjoying learning more about Miss Stein’s character.
I’m also enjoying learning about Hemingway’s character as both writer and man – in his determination to do his best to serve her in getting justice for her good work while in no way accepting her ‘dirty, easy labels’.
We all have good and bad characteristics.
I recently read Discipline is Destiny: 25 Habits That Will Guarantee You Success by Ryan Holiday. The following habit stood out to me as:
Words of Wisdom
Habit 16. Be a little deaf. We have to develop the ability to ignore, to endure, to forget. Not just cruel provocations from jerks, but also unintentional slights and mistakes from people we love or respect. “It helps to be a little deaf,” was the advice that Ruth Bader Ginsburg was given by her mother-in-law. It helped guide her through not just 56 years of marriage, but also a 27-year career on the court with colleagues she adored–but surely disagreed with on a regular basis.
I love learning about this habit. I also love being able to connect these stories through that habit. And I love recognising this characteristic which I admire in both Hemingway and Ginsburg.
It’s a characteristic I would like to develop within myself because while I’m accepting of people for who they are, I’m inclined to walk away from behaviours I don’t like.
I’ve lived my life by the principle that if I choose to spend time with people, I accept them for who they are. If they behave in a way I don’t like, I have a choice of walking away or speaking up. I believe whatever has to be said needs to be said directly to the person. Then both parties can respond and can make the decision of what happens next in the relationship.
People are surprised when I share this. They say, “but you’re so easy-going, you get on with everyone”. It’s true, I am easy-going, but I’m also very values-driven, and if something goes against my values, I can become quite fierce—much to people’s surprise.
While I like this characteristic about myself, I can’t help but think that perhaps adopting or adapting, Being a little deaf, to develop the ability to ignore, to endure, to forget, could be helpful. Because, after all, other people’s behaviour is about them, not me. And besides, being fierce is draining, whereas being easy-going is rather restoring. It serves to refill the deep part of the well that is my joie de vivre approach to life and living.
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 4 (of 20) Shakespeare and Company took me …
Today’s coffee was from L’eau à La Bouche Delicatessen & Café, Broadway Market. A wonderful new discovery, and I shall return soon to sample the très délicieux food in their delicatessen. Broadway Market is one of my favourite streets in London. Located next to London Fields, it’s filled with interesting shops, cafés and restaurants. Motor traffic free, it was beautiful to sit in the early autumn sunshine, reading a chapter over coffee and a brioche bun, glancing up from time to time, catching walkers and cyclists passing by.
Se souvenir de toi, Norma.
#FunFact1 Une Génération Perdue – The Lost Generation was the generational cohort that was in early adulthood during World War I. “Lost” in this context refers to the “disoriented, wandering, directionless” spirit of many of the war’s survivors in the early postwar period. The term is also particularly used to refer to a group of American expatriate writers living in Paris during the 1920s. Gertrude Stein is credited with coining the term, and it was subsequently popularised by Ernest Hemingway, who used it in an epigraph for his 1926 The Sun Also Rises: ”You are all a lost generation.” The Lost Generation became the driving force behind many cultural changes, particularly in major cities during what became known as the Roaring Twenties. (Source Wikipedia)
#FunFact2 Broadway Market is a working Victorian street market. In more modern times, Broadway Market, and specifically the barber shop, was the location for David Cronenberg’s 2007 film, Eastern Promises. The opening scenes of the 1988 movie Buster were shot at the Regent’s Canal end of the market. It was also used for filming some scenes in the 1947 film Odd Man Out. Along with many squares and streets in the East End of London, it is rumoured that the old Broadway Market partly inspired Eastenders. (Source Broadway Market).
Broadway Market is a great resource to learn more about the cafés, bars & restaurants, shops and stalls that make this street so special. You’ll also be taken through time from 1,000 BC to learn about the history of the market.
#FunFact3 The Regent’s Canal runs under Broadway Market in Hackney and then curves along Andrews road with industrial views of warehouses, rail bridges and gasometers. (Source Canal & River Trust).
Canal & River Trust is a Charity. In their own words, this is what they are about:
“We care for a 2,000-mile-long, 200-year-old, network of canals, rivers, reservoirs and docks because we believe that life is better by water.
Our vision is to have living waterways that transform places and enrich lives.
We provide a space where people can feel happier and healthier, nature is recovering and history is alive. A space for boating, angling, cycling, walking, paddling or just watching the world drift by”.
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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.
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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.