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ernest hemingway

12 Tidbits of Wisdom for Writers (via Ernest Hemingway)

hemingway Ernest Hemingway would have been 113 on Saturday. In honor of the grand (and oftentimes irreverent) thinker, writer and life enthusiast, I spent some time digging back through the litany of wisdom he left behind.

“There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed.”

“The first draft of anything is shit.”

“Write drunk; edit sober.”

“All good books are alike in that they are truer than if they had really happened and after you are finished reading one you will feel that all that happened to you and afterwards it all belongs to you: the good and the bad, the ecstasy, the remorse and sorrow, the people and the places and how the weather was. If you can get so that you can give that to people, then you are a writer.”

“All you have to do is write one true sentence. Write the truest sentence that you know.”

“My aim is to put down on paper what I see and what I feel in the best and simplest way.”

“As a writer, you should not judge, you should understand.”

“The hard part about writing a novel is finishing it.”

“In order to write about life first you must live it.”

“It’s none of their business that you have to learn how to write. Let them think you were born that way.”

“There is no rule on how to write. Sometimes it comes easily and perfectly; sometimes it’s like drilling rock and then blasting it out with charges.”

“Write hard and clear about what hurts. ”

CHIME IN: What’s your best piece of writing advice?

Would Ernest Be Proud?

I admire Hemingway. His stories make me sad, but the shattered shards and broken pieces of wisdom he left behind from real life--the blips and quotes--those words speak to my soul. Those words leave me feeling deeply saddened that Ernest and I never had the opportunity to sit across the table from one another (and maybe Bukowski) at the dinner table, or sit quietly together reading in a room that smelled of well-worn leather chairs. In a strange and inexplicable way, Hemingway's thoughts and quotes are like reading letters that have been tucked safely in an attic trunk, documenting a great uncle's time abroad at war. And SOS from someone I never knew and will never meet, but somehow feel pulsing through my veins.

Tonight I wrote a children's book.

My father has been telling me to write a book for years. I protest every time. I tell him that's like telling every cellist in the world they should become Yo-Yo Ma. "Write a book," my father says, ignoring my excuses, "If you can write one or two good ones, that will be great."

Tonight I wrote a children's book. 

The man I love(d) has been telling me to write a book for two years. "What did you do last weekend?," he asks without fail, "Have you written a children's book yet?"

The answer was always no.

Until it wasn't.

Hemingway once said, “Forget your personal tragedy. We are all bitched from the start, and you especially have to be hurt like hell before you can write seriously. But when you get the damned hurt, use it--don't cheat with it."

I chose to write a children's book instead.