Ernest Hemingway …

Ernest Hemingway …

Ernest Hemingway (1899~1961) was an American novelist, short story writer, and journalist. His economical and understated style had a strong influence on 20th-century fiction, while his life of adventure and his public image influenced later generations. Hemingway produced most of his work between the mid-1920s and the mid-1950s, and won the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1954. He published seven novels, six short story collections, and two non-fiction works. Many of his works are considered classics of American literature. These include A Farewell to Arms (1929), To Have and Have Not (1937), For Whom the Bell Tolls (1940) and The Old Man and the Sea (1952).

The widely travelled Hemingway maintained permanent residences in Key West, Florida, (1930s) and Cuba (1940s and 1950s), and in 1959, he bought a house in Ketchum, Idaho, where he died in mid-1961.

Throughout his adult life Hemingway rose early, at 5:30 or 6:00, woken by the first light of day. In a 1958 interview with The Paris Review, he explained the importance of those early-morning hours:

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.

Hemingway’s house in Key West, Florida, where he wrote To Have and Have Not.

In the same interview he was asked about rewriting his work:

INTERVIEWER

Can you dismiss from your mind whatever project you’re on when you’re away from the typewriter?

HEMINGWAY

Of course. But it takes discipline to do it and this discipline is acquired. It has to be.

INTERVIEWER

Do you do any rewriting as you read up to the place you left off the day before? Or does that come later, when the whole is finished?

HEMINGWAY

I always rewrite each day up to the point where I stopped. When it is all finished, naturally you go over it. You get another chance to correct and rewrite when someone else types it, and you see it clean in type. The last chance is in the proofs. You’re grateful for these different chances.

INTERVIEWER

How much rewriting do you do?

HEMINGWAY

It depends. I rewrote the ending to Farewell to Arms, the last page of it, thirty-nine times before I was satisfied.

INTERVIEWER

Was there some technical problem there? What was it that had stumped you?

HEMINGWAY

Getting the words right.

He wrote standing up, facing a chest-high bookshelf with a typewriter on the top, and on top of that a wooden reading board. First drafts were composed in pencil on onionskin typewriter paper laid slantwise across the board; when the work was going well, Hemingway would remove the board and shift to the typewriter. He tracked his daily word output on a chart — “so as not to kid myself,” he said. When the writing wasn’t going well, he would often knock off the fiction and answer letters, which gave him a welcome break from “the awful responsibility of writing” — or, as he sometimes called it, “the responsibility of awful writing.”
(Mason Currey, Daily Rituals) 

“WE ARE ALL APPRENTICES IN A CRAFT WHERE NO ONE EVER BECOMES A MASTER.” —ERNEST HEMINGWAY

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