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Ernest Hemingway on Writing

“It’s enough for you to do it once for a few men to remember you. But if you do it year after year, then many people remember you and they tell it to their children, and their children and grandchildren remember and, if it concerns books, they can read them. And if it’s good enough, it will last as long as there are human beings.” from Malcolm Cowley, “A Portrait of Mr. Papa” Jan.10,1949

“When you first start writing stories in the first person if the stories are made so real that people believe them the people reading them nearly always think the stories really happened to you. That is natural because while you were making them up you had to make them happen to the person who was telling them. If you do this successfully enough you make the person who is reading them believe that the things happened to him too. If you can do this you are beginning to get what you are trying for which is to make the story so real beyond any reality that it will become a part of the reader’s experience and a part of his memory. There must be things he did not notice when he read the story or the novel which without his knowing it, enter into his memory and experience so that they are a part of his life This is not easy to do.” – unpublished manuscript from the Kennedy Library.

“Good writing is true writing. If a man is making up a story up it will be true in proportion to the amount of knowledge of life that he has and how conscientious he is; so that when he makes something up it is as it would truly be.” By-Line: Ernest Hemingway, p.215

Mice: What is the best early training for a writer?

Y.C: An unhappy childhood.

By-Line: Ernest Hemingway, p.219

Interviewer: Can you recall an exact moment when you decided to become a writer?

Hemingway: No, I always wanted to be a writer. from George Plimpton, “An Interview with Ernest Hemingway” The Paris Review 18, Spring 1958

“He always worked best when Helen was unwell. Just that much discontent and friction. Then there were times when you had to write. Not conscience. Just peristaltic action Then you felt sometimes like you could never write but after a while you knew sooner or later you would write another good story.

It was really more fun than anything. That was really why you did it. He had never realized that before. It wasn’t conscience. It was simply that it was the greatest pleasure. It had more bite to it than anything else.” The Nick Adams Stories, p.238

“A man’s got to take a lot of punishment to write a really funny book.” to William B. Smith, Jr, 1924 Selected Letters, p.139

 

 

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