I want to be like Hemingway.

My husband took a little short-notice vacation to Key West over Christmas. One of the benefits to him traveling a lot for work is that we rack up hotel points and airline miles (well, Southwest calls them “points” too). We picked a new Hilton hotel that was on the north end of the island. They had a shuttle bus that would bring you down to “where the action was” and then bring you back to the hotel at the end of the night. The only catch is, the “end of the night” was about midnight; which was fine, because we’re starting to be a tiny bit too old for the hubbub that ensues after midnight.

It was beautiful weather, being in the “winter” way down south. We did a lot of walking, and on this trip we visited a few tourist traps. One of the ones I’ve always seen at a distance but never paid to get into was Hemingway’s house.

The real reason I wanted to go there was for the cats.

At Hemingway’s house, there are dozens of polydactyl cats. Basically they look like cats with thumbs. Even without the intriguing novelty of strange paws, though, they’re cats… soft, calm, and patient–since they’re used to having strangers walk up and pet them.

It wasn’t the cats, however, that really slapped me sideways while we were on the beautiful grounds of the house.

We paid the few dollars when we went in, and we took the guided tour of the house itself. The tour guide was an incredibly thin, beautiful, hippy-ish woman, wearing a white tank top and khaki cargo-pocket pants. I loved her. She had an enthusiastic, strange voice–I can’t even describe it, it was like nothing I’ve ever heard–and you couldn’t help but be pulled into her stories.

After listening to a talk in Hemingway’s bedroom, where a jet black cat laid uninterested on a stark white bedspread, we all shuffled out the door onto the little deck around the top level of the house. Here there used to be a little bridge walkway that connected the main house to Hemingway’s writing studio. A storm blew it down years ago, the tour guide told us.

Then she started talking about his writing. She said his goal was to write a thousand words per day, and also to spend time around town (including at the local bar), listening to the stories of others, getting inspiration for writing.

This whole talk stopped me dead in my tracks.

I stood there, and blinked, and looked around me. The landscape was beautiful, green, and lush. The architecture and design of the house, studio, and pool were simple, yet breathtaking. The kitties… well, every single one of them was a little fluffy ball of awesome.

I can do that, I thought. I can write a thousand words a day easily. I want to live that life–writing for a living. I was so stunned in that one moment in time that I finally came to understand the term “…stopped me dead in my tracks…”

…because it did.

I want to be like Hemingway.

That one moment in time… that’s why I’m here. That’s why I’m writing this. That’s why I’ve started this blog.

Have you started something new recently? Have you started pursuing something that you realized was a lifelong passion? What was the snapping twig for you? I’d love to hear about it.


This post was originally written for the “Real Artists Don’t Starve Community.” I’ve edited it a bit and added to it. To learn more about Jeff Goins and his new book, Real Artists Don’t Starve, please visit his blog. Enjoy the following tidbit of knowledge! -S

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Author: Susan Pitman

Susan is an artist who grew up in Massachusetts and now lives in Texas. She writes songs, short stories, and books. You can follow @kitykity on Twitter.

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Rose Maloney
Rose Maloney

Ah Suzy, we have more in common than just your dad! You have said what I have thought for years now…it’s like my mind is too busy to get all the words out! That and “I don’t know how!” How do I start? “Why? I’m not good enough.. ” you know the lines, I’m sure. I want to create! Because it’s fun! It’s a BLAST! It lights me up and makes me feel good. And it’s been passed on to my kids, who knows, maybe my whole line of descendants! I feel your joy. Anyway thanks for inviting me into… Read more »