Friday, January 11, 2013

Writing: Nothing New

One of the best gifts I received this Christmas was a little book, Ernest Hemingway on Writing. I began reading, thinking I might learn some magic secret of writing success. Instead, I discovered that Hemingway had some of the same feelings and encountered some of the same problems as the rest of us.

For example, he said, "Writing is at best a lonely life. Organizations for writers palliate the writer's loneliness, but I doubt if they improve his writing." Frankly, some of these organizations do offer courses and lectures that help, but for me their main attraction has always been the opportunity to interface with people who face the same problems I do.

And, lest we think that Hemingway was rich, he penned these words: "My own experience with the literary life has not as yet included receiving royalties--but I hope by keeping down advances to someday have this take place." Wow, I've heard that before from many of my colleagues. Nope, nothing new there.

By the way, Hemingway also had a problem with titles. Check Ecclesiastes 1:5 if you wonder where he came up with The Sun Also Rises. No, there's really nothing new under the sun, is there?

These are some things I've learned from Hemingway. What have you learned from a famous figure? Let us know.


Anne Mateer said...

Wow. That sounds like a really cool book! Thanks for sharing those quotes. Helps us all remember our experiences as writers are common ones!

Richard Mabry said...

Thanks, Anne. Yes, I was surprised to find that Hemingway had some of the same feelings and problems that we face today. Truly, there's nothing new under the sun.

Rebecca Yauger said...

Great post, Doc! Like you, I enjoy writers groups and conferences for the fellowship. It feels good being around other writers who are sharing this journey. Thanks for sharing bits from this book.

Richard Mabry said...

Rebecca, I still recall the feeling I got at my first conference--"they get me, they understand, I'm not the only person who faces this stuff."
Of course, we need to remember that at some conferences, there are non-writers in the hotel. For example, try getting on an elevator at the ACFW conference with Brandilyn Collins as she tries to explain how she's going to kill someone. We got some strange looks from that one.