Write

June 24, 2020

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.

Ernest Hemingway
Paris Review issue 18 Spring 1958

When Spring is sprung…

March 12, 2020

When spring came, even the false spring, there were no problems except where to be happiest. The only thing that could spoil a day was people and if you could keep from making engagements, each day had no limits. People were always the limiters of happiness except for the very few that were as good as spring itself.

Ernest Hemingway
A Moveable Feast

beyond belief

March 1, 2020

You’ll ache. And you’re going to love it. It will crush you. And you’re still going to love all of it. Doesn’t it sound lovely beyond belief?

Ernest Hemingway
The Garden of Eden

If a writer of prose knows enough about what he is writing about he may omit things that he knows and the reader, if the writer is writing truly enough, will have a feeling of those things as strongly as though the writer had stated them. The dignity of movement of the iceberg is due to only one-eighth of it being above water.

Ernest Hemingway
Death in the Afternoon

liquor

September 19, 2019

Don’t you drink? I notice you speak slightingly of the bottle. I have drunk since I was fifteen and few things have given me more pleasure. When you work hard all day with your head and know you must work again the next day what else can change your ideas and make them run on a different plane like whisky? When you are cold and wet what else can warm you? Before an attack who can say anything that gives you the momentary well-being that rum does?… The only time it isn’t good for you is when you write or when you fight. You have to do that cold. But it always helps my shooting. Modern life, too, is often a mechanical oppression and liquor is the only mechanical relief.

Ernest Hemingway
Letter to Ivan Kashkin 19 August 1935

how do you write?

May 14, 2019

how do you write?

Well, aside from literally just sitting down and typing (or writing longhand, if you prefer), here are a few tips to help you create a system and environment that compels you to write, instead of dithering about how to get going:
• Come up with a daily goal: Stephen King, for instance, makes himself write 2,000 words per day, every day — no ifs, ands, or buts. You may also choose a word count goal
• Choose a start time and stick to it: Hemingway always wrote in the morning, right after first light, because he loved the peace and quiet of the early hours. He would write until 9am or 12pm, at a point where he “still ha[d his] juice and kn[ew] what w[ould] happen next.”
• Limit yourself: Bestselling novelist Jodi Picoult once said, “Writer’s block is having too much time on your hands. If you have a limited amount of time to write, you just sit down and do it.”
These are just suggestions. You may want to imitate one, some, or all of these ideas, but whatever you decide, just pick one and get started. Time’s a-wastin’!

Sarah Cy
Want to be a Great Writer?

We made love

May 13, 2018

We made love and then made love again and then after we had made love once more, quiet and dark and unspeaking and unthinking and then like a shower of meteors on a cold night, we went to sleep.

Ernest Hemingway
True at First Light

Dickens, often publishing a novel in monthly parts, found it necessary to devote some hundreds of words, and if necessary repeat those words a month later, to a single character.

In 1920 Sherwood Anderson remarked simply that ‘she was a tall silent woman with a long nose and troubled grey eyes’; in 1930 Mr. Ernest Hemingway in a moment, for him, of unusual expansion, said, ‘He wore a derby hat and a black overcoat buttoned Across his chest. His face was small and white and he had tight lips. He wore a silk muffler and gloves.’ In I940 Mr.V. S. Pritchett writes, ‘He had a cape on, soaked with, rain, and the rain was in beads in his hair. It was fair hair. It stood up on end.’

Anderson took up fourteen words, Mr. Hemingway thirty-one, Mr. Pritchett twenty-six. Between Dickens and Mr. Pritchett, then, something has happened. Is it only the evolution of the short story ? May it not also be, perhaps, the parallel evolution of the reader ? Education, travel, wider social contact, the increased uniformity of life, dress, and manners have made us all familiar with things that were once remote enough to need to be described. To-day all of us have seen Sherwood Anderson’s woman, the tragic, anonymous representative of a whole inarticulate class ; we have seen Mr. Hemingway’s tough with the black overcoat and bowler hat ; we know Mr. Pritchett’s type with its fair hair that stands up on end. The widening of social contact, among other things, has relived these three writers, and their generation, of an oppressive obligation. It is no longer necessary to describe ; it is enough to suggest. The full-length portrait, in full dress, with scenic back-ground, has become superfluous ; now it is enough that we should know a woman by the shape of her hands.

H E Bates
The Modern Short Story

The wheat was ripe but there was no one there to cut it now, and tank tracks led through it to where the tanks lay pushed into the hedge that topped the ridge that looked across the wooded country to the hill we would have to take tomorrow. There was no one between us and the Germans in that wooded country and on the hill. We knew they had some infantry there and between fifteen and forty tanks. But the division had advanced so fast that the division on its left had not come up, and all this country that you looked across, seeing the friendly hills, the valleys, the farmhouses with their fields and orchards, and the gray-walled, slate-roofed buildings of the town with its sharp-pointing church tower, was all one open flank. All of it was deadly.

The division had not advanced beyond its objective. It had reached its objective, the high ground we were now on, exactly when it should have. It had been doing this for day after day after day after week after month now. No one remembered separate days any more, and history, being made each day, was never noticed but only merged into a great blur of tiredness and dust, of the smell of dead cattle, the smell of earth new-broken by TNT, the grinding sound of tanks and bulldozers, the sound of automatic-rifle and machine-gun fire, the interceptive, dry rattle of German machine-pistol fire, dry as a rattler rattling; and the quick, spurting tap of the German light machine-guns—and always waiting for others to come up.

It was merged in the memory of the fight up out of the deadly, low hedgerow country onto the heights and through the forest and on down into the plain, by and through the towns, some smashed, and some intact, and on up into the rolling farm and forest country where we were now.

History now was old K-ration boxes, empty foxholes, the drying leaves on the branches that were cut for camouflage. It was burned German vehicles, burned Sherman tanks, many burned German Panthers and some burned Tigers, German dead along the roads, in the hedges and in the orchards, German equipment scattered everywhere, German horses roaming the fields, and our own wounded and our dead passing back strapped two abreast on top of the evacuation jeeps. But mostly history was getting where we were to get on time and waiting there for others to come up.

Now on this clear summer afternoon we stood looking across the country where the division would fight tomorrow. It was one of the first days of the really good weather. The sky was high and blue, and ahead and to our left, our planes were working on the German tanks. Tiny and silver in the sun, the P-47s came in high in pairs of pairs and circled before peeling off to dive-bomb. As they went down, growing big-headed and husky-looking in the snarl of the dive you saw the flash and the smoke of the bombs and heard their heavy thud. Then the P-47s climbed and circled again to come down strafing, smoke streaming gray behind them as they dived ahead of the smoke their eight big .50s made as they hammered. There was a very bright flash in the trees of the wooded patch the planes were diving on, and then black smoke arose and the planes came down strafing again and again.

“They got a Jerry tank then,” one of the tank men said.

“That’s one of the b—s less.”

“Can you see him with your glasses?” another helmeted tank man asked me.

I said, “The trees hide him from this side.”‘

“They would,” the tank man said. “If we used cover like those damned Krauts, a lot more guys would get to Paris or Berlin or wherever it is we’re going.”

“Home,” another man said. “That’s all I care about going. That’s where I’m going. All those other places will be off limits anyway. We’re never going in no town.”

“Take it easy,” another soldier said. “Take it a day at a time.”

“Say, correspondent,” another soldier called. “One thing I can’t understand. You tell me, will you? What are you doing here if you don’t have to be here? Do you do it just for the money?”

“Sure,” I said. “Big money. Lots of money.”

“It don’t make sense to me,” he said seriously. “I understand anybody doing it that has to do it. But doing it for money don’t make sense. There ain’t the money in the world to pay me for doing it.”

A German high-explosive shell with a time fuse cracked overhead and to our right, leaving a black puff of smoke in the air.

“Those lousy Krauts shot that stuff too high,” the soldier who wouldn’t do it for money said.

Just then the German artillery started shelling the hill on our left where one of the battalions of the first of the three infantry regiments in the division lay above the town. The side of the hill was jumping into the air in spurting dark fountains from the multiple bursts.

“They’ll shoot on us next,” one of the tank men said. “They’ve got good observation on us here.”

“Lay down under the back of the tank there if they start to shoot,” the big tank man who had told the other soldier to take it a day at a time said. “That’s the best place to be.”

“She looks sort of heavy,” I told him. “Suppose you have to start backing out in a hurry?”

“I’ll holler to you,” he grinned. Our 105s opened up behind us in counter-battery fire, and the German shelling stopped. A Piper Cub was circling slowly overhead. Another was off to the right.

“They don’t like to shoot when those Cubs are up,” the big tank man said. “They spot the flashes, and then our artillery gives them hell or the planes go in after them.” We stayed there a while but the German artillery only opened at intervals on the hill the battalion was holding. We were not attacking.

“Let’s go back and see where the rest of the combat command has got to,” I said.

“Okay,” said Kimbrough, who drove the captured German motorcycle we rode on. “Let’s go.”

Ernest Hemingway
The GI and the General
Colliers Weekly, November 4, 1944

then made love again

June 21, 2017

We made love and then made love again and then after we had made love once more, quiet and dark and unspeaking and unthinking and then like a shower of meteors on a cold night, we went to sleep.

Ernest Hemingway
True At First Light