Now I Get Why Hemingway Drank

So I’m halfway through that writing class at my local community college.

What I didn’t realize is that I’d be retaking AP English again.

I guess my expectations are born of having graduated from undergrad and grad school. As someone who has done workshops before and meets with local writers about once a week, I was expecting something like what I’ve done previously: we discuss a particular writing elements, read an example, and then choose prompts to create our own stories. Then we look at other works of ours and present that to the group to critique.

Instead, I have to discuss Hemingway’s “Hills Like White Elephants” and answer: what is the purpose of the couple’s journey? What is the meaning of the hills like white elephants? Why are the speakers only identified as “a man” and “girl”? How do these designations affect your reading of the story? What nickname does the man use for the girl and why is that significant?

It’s enough to drive me to drink (just like Hemingway).

I guess I figured I’d be writing a lot more… creatively? That I would be inspired to work on my own half-formed stories and conjure up a few new ones. I thought I’d be talking more about new things, rather than rehashing old ones.

Maybe, my expectations were a little skewed. Maybe, I’m being pretentious. Maybe, I’m just being irritable. But, here I am, six weeks in, and I’m trying to write about Montresor’s cognitive dissonance and compare it with Walter Mitty.

This drink is for you, Ernest, you depressing bastard.


Published by Ren Martinez

Ren is a thirty-something Lost Boy whose personal aesthetic is “suspected of witchcraft by local villagers.” She subscribes to cheerful nihilism, the destruction of the patriarchy, and the belief that glitter makes everything better. She is a Richmond-based writer and performer who has fiction and non-fiction work found in a variety of publications, such as The Mary Sue, RVA Magazine, The Quotable, and Nostrovia Press. She is currently the fiction editor and a regular contributor at Quail Bell Magazine. She is also the co-host of the podcast, This F***ing Guy! Find out more at or read her dumbass tweets on Twitter @itsrenmartinez

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