Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Ah, Hemingway.

We don’t hear enough about Ernest Hemingway.  If it were up to me, I would talk about Hemingway every day and I would use him as an example of many things having nothing to do with writing.  If you read A Moveable Feast, my favorite book, and the best literary gossip extravaganza, you could indict him every other page for personality disorders but none of that matters BECAUSE it was Hemingway who gave us the thrill and freedom of The Simple Declarative Unadorned Sentence that unlocked the prison doors for writers who had the sense to steal his style.  If you think it’s easy to write this way, it’s not.  We’re verbose, lazy talkers with the notion that clauses, interjections, adjectives and adverbs are necessary to make us sound intelligent.  Pity. 
I came across this paragraph on Hemingway’s writing regime that illuminates his process. Hemingway stood when he wrote.  The typewriter and the reading board were chest-high opposite him.  He always stopped writing when he knew exactly what was going to happen next.  (I probably didn't need 'exactly' in that last sentence.)
When I am working on a book or a story I write every morning as soon after first light as possible. There is no one to disturb you and it is cool or cold and you come to your work and warm as you write. You read what you have written and, as you always stop when you know what is going to happen next, you go on from there. You write until you come to a place where you still have your juice and know what will happen next and you stop and try to live through until the next day when you hit it again. You have started at six in the morning, say, and may go on until noon or be through before that. When you stop you are as empty, and at the same time never empty but filling, as when you have made love to someone you love. Nothing can hurt you, nothing can happen, nothing means anything until the next day when you do it again. It is the wait until the next day that is hard to get through.”

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