Emily and Ernie

I’ve been struggling with my writing lately, so I took a road trip to Amherst, Massachusetts to be inspired by a visit to Emily Dickinson’s birth home.  She was born there, and she died there, and was a recluse for most of her adult life.  I saw the bedroom where she wrote most of her poems- nearly all of them published after her death.  I don’t know what kind of inspiration I was looking for, but it got me thinking- do I have to wait until after I die to have only my sister discover my writings to have them published and then become famous?

The Morgan Library has an exhibit right now on Ernest Hemingway.  As I was going through the exhibit, an elderly lady who was standing next to me whispered, “He shot himself, you know.”  He was a drunk and suffered from depression, but is considered one of America’s greatest writers.  Maybe I’m just too sane to become a great writer- yeah, that’s my problem!  I asked my friend who was going through the exhibit with me, “Would you rather live a safe, happy, stable life and only write mediocre stories, or would you sacrifice some of your sanity- do a Sylvia Plath, maybe- in order to write that one brilliant piece of work?”  She looked over at me and said, “Great question.”