In May of 1945, legendary Scribner editor Maxwell Perkins wrote to a young soldier serving overseas. The enlisted man had sent Perkins a short story and asked for advice about pursuing a writing career. Perkins was gently encouraging, urging the young man to take his time distilling his war experiences into fiction. By way of instruction and inspiration, he tells of visiting his author and friend Ernest Hemingway in Key West. “We went fishing every day in those many-colored waters, and then also in the deep-blue Gulf Stream. It was all completely new to me, and wonderfully interesting—there was so much to know that nobody would ever have suspected, about even fishing. I said to Hemingway, ‘Why don’t you write about all this?’” Hemingway replied, “I will in time, but I couldn’t do it yet.” Pointing to a pelican Perkins recalls as “clumsily flapping along,” the author added, “See that pelican? I don’t know yet what his part is in the scheme of things.”
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