I stand leaning against the parched wooden dock—algae creeps over the wood which sits rotting in open air. Seagulls scream overhead. Hemingway, from out of nowhere, as usual, comes up to stand beside me. His hand reaches towards the cigarette slowly burning in my hand and I pass it to him softly, making sure fingers don’t touch. He takes a long pull, staring out over the water, pausing with it in his hands for a moment and passes it back to me. He leans against the dock, white-haired forearms caught up in sunlight and bulging against rolled shirtsleeves.

“It’s been a while, yeah” he asks, turning to lean on one arm and look over at me. I don’t say anything and take another puff, holding it in for a second longer before inhaling. Hemingway’s annoyed—which admittedly is as he usually is—and he fidgets with the ends of his shirt sleeves before turning away again. His hand goes up to brush through his hair but stops midway, and hovers there before awkwardly settling on the dock.

“It wasn’t my fault, you know.”

“I know,” I say before taking another puff. I hand the cigarette back to him.

“Well, don’t you want to say anything,” he asks.

“No.” I look out over the ocean and a mist of spray lightens on my face. Lumps of kelp appear along the beach, like aliens reaching and pulling their way out of the surf.

“Well, goddamnit kid, you can’t just be sitting her angry at the world, dicking your life away like this,” he pauses, “you had something. Don’t give me that look.” I turn away from him. His hands grasp at the air. “You had something important, necessary even, for this world and now what the fuck are you doing? You’re wasting it.”

Hemingway begins pacing up and down the small dock. Two steps this way, two steps that way. Small birds at the edge of the water race back and forth in front of the water. Tufts of grasses shudder in the wind around us. Down on the beach, maybe a half-mile away, somebody approaches though they’re no more than a black silhouette. An idea of a person at this point. I crush my cigarette out onto the parched wood. Black ash floats away on the wind. I stuff my hands in my pockets and turn to leave. Hemingway notices.

“Goddamnit,” he says and begins to follow, each of us climbing slowly up the hill, wind tearing at us sideways.

“How’d you find me here anyways,” I finally ask. He throws up his arms.

“Hell kid, I’ve been looking. Not that you were easy to find, you know that don’t you…” His words continue and fall softly into a progression which finally settles in the back of my head. Like waves crashing. Like wind blowing. A constant now that is at once irritating and reassuring. That is Hemingway.

We get back to my car and there is no question that he isn’t going with me, waits calmly as I lean over to unlock the passenger side door and collapses down into the seat. “Where we going, kid,” he asks.

And so it begins. After going back and forth about this project for a while, I’ve decided to lace up the bootstraps and try it out. Here’s a brief history and then explanation for project…

I read a lot. I write a lot. After having graduated with an English degree, I realized I had only read a few short stories or bits and pieces of Hemingway’s stories but nothing complete and nothing to leave a lasting impression. I read a lot and for all the hoopla surrounding the guy, none of his works really made me want to go back and “revisit”. Not particularly strange given that we only have certain writers that we just “connect” to and, while we read their writing, words seem to make better sense. Hemingway, though, didn’t do this for me.

So why do I have a blog dedicated to him now? He (or rather the “him” I imagine) did something profoundly different from every other writer I’ve read. Maybe it’s his larger-than-life personality and history. It could be how his name has become instead a “word” in our language rather than a historical person. In any case, Hemingway himself began entering some of my shorter writing pieces, for better or worse, and I’ve been stuck with the balding, hairy-knuckled guy ever since.

I can’t imagine my ideas of him are shared with any type of reality and, in this way, I’ve constructed Hemingway for myself. I don’t know now if I’d want him any other way. This is why I choose now not to read Hemingway. Mostly for superstitious reasons but also for the principle of it. If you’ve come to this site for relevant criticism and such, it’ll all just be a bit of blathering for you. Instead, I want to explore my own conceptions of who Hemingway is for me, untainted by the actual reality of the man. I’ll do this through the short vignettes and stories that come out. To add legitimacy to this exploration, I’ve given myself the challenge of writing one of these vignettes at least 5 times a week, for the time of one year. I want to explore how our conceptions and beliefs about a person come to define them in our minds. How reality can become rather slippery. I suppose in this time, I’ll come to learn who Hemingway is, and maybe come to find out some things about myself as well.

And now, join in for the rollicking literary challenge! As a sidenote, there may also be random cooking and book-related entries from time to time and as my interest follows. Challenge begins April 1st, 2010.