“When you start out writing, it’s fun for you and hell on the reader. By the end, it’s hell for you and fun for the reader.” – Ernest Hemingway
The best fiction and writing blog posts from around the ‘net, all guaranteed to make you a literary heavyweight. Compiled by ernie.
C.S. Wilde – Free Scene Planer
John Hartness – Music to write by
Miguel Olmedo Morell – The Day I Filmed Tolkien’s Grandson
Fionn Grant – There Is No Original
Penstricken – A Fight Scene Worth Reading
Janice Hardy – Backstory: Finding the Right Balance
Alice Osborn – Why I Love Editing
Ernest Hemingway Seven Tips on How to Write Fiction
“The rejection slip is very hard to take on an empty stomach. There were times when I’d sit at that old wooden table and read one of those cold slips that had been attached to a story I had loved and worked on very hard and believed in, and I couldn’t help crying.”
– Ernest Hemingway
Here’s an inspirational scene from one of my favorite movies, Midnight in Paris. Gil Pender, a young writer on vacation in Paris, climbs into a cab at the stroke of midnight, and when he gets out, he finds himself in 1920s Paris, where he encounters many literary and artistic legends. In the following clip, Gil gets to discuss writing with Ernest Hemingway. Gil can’t resist asking for a small favor:
Gil: Would you read it?
Ernest Hemingway: Your novel?
Gil: Yeah, it’s about 400 pages long, and I’m just looking for an opinion.
Ernest Hemingway: My opinion is I hate it.
Gil: Well you haven’t even read it yet.
Ernest Hemingway: If it’s bad, I’ll hate it because I hate bad writing, and if it’s good, I’ll be envious and hate it all the more. You don’t want the opinion of another writer.
Gil: You know what it is? I’m having a hard time getting somebody to evaluate it.
Ernest Hemingway: You’re too self-effacing; it’s not manly. If you’re a writer [slams table with his fist], declare yourself the best writer.
Ha! Yeah, that sounds like Ernie. And he’s right: It takes more than a little self-confidence to put your heart into a story and hit that “Send” key. You don’t know what the person judging your work is going to think. That’s scary — definitely not for the weak of heart.
Jami Gold recently addressed this in a great blog post titled “What Helps You BE a Writer?”:
Outside of any writing skill that we may or may not have, we also bring other aspects of ourselves to the writing-journey table. We might have personality traits that help us want to be a writer, such as a love of storytelling or a desire to entertain, educate, or inspire others.
Or we might have personality traits that help us stick with writing, even during the bad times. As Delilah mentioned in her post, stubbornness (tenacity, perseverance, determination, etc.) ranks high in many of the replies.
We might have enough of an ego that we think others are interested in what we have to say. Or we might have a desire to prove ourselves worthy of being listened to.
Jami and Ernie are on to something: If you’re going to write, go big. Go brazen. And keep going.
The best fiction and writing blog posts from around the ‘net, with advice and inspiration guaranteed to make you a literary adventurer. Compiled by ernie.
Jeremy Anderberg – The Libraries of Famous Men: Ernest Hemingway
Krishan Coupland – How to Submit Your Writing
P. S. Hoffman – How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Outline
J.C. Wolfe – 7 Ways I Find Writers’ Blogs
Jami Gold – What Does Your Genre’s Theme Promise to Readers?
Cathleen Townsend – Editor’s List of Common Mistakes
A. J. Humpage – The Art of Captivating First Lines
From Bloomberg Business:
Ernest Hemingway’s memoir about the time he spent lounging in cafes and bars in 1920s Paris has become an unlikely totem of defiance against the terrorist attacks that claimed 129 lives in the City of Light last Friday.
Hemingway’s ‘‘A Moveable Feast,’’ or “Paris est une Fete” in French, is flying off the shelves at bookstores across the French capital and is the fastest-selling biography and foreign-language book at online retailer Amazon.fr. Daily orders of the memoir, first published in 1964, three years after the American author’s death, have risen 50-fold to 500 since Monday, according to publisher Folio.
Copies have been laid among the flowers and tributes at the sites of the massacres, and people are reading the book in bars and cafes, Folio spokesman David Ducreux said Thursday. Orders surged after a BFM television interview on Monday with a 77-year-old woman called Danielle, who urged people to read the memoir as she laid flowers for the dead. The video was shared hundreds of times on social media.
I think this is a marvelous way to express solidarity with the people of Paris in the wake of last week’s horrific massacre. That said, the article’s description of A Moveable Feast as an account of the time Hemingway “spent lounging in cafes and bars in 1920s Paris” misses the mark. Yes, there are sensuous descriptions of how he and his friends “ate well and cheaply and drank well,” but the little masterpiece also reveals how Hemingway mastered the craft of fiction, including how he dealt with rejection letters. Hemingway’s vignettes of Ezra Pound, Gertrude Stein, and F. Scott Fitzgerald are not to be missed.
If you haven’t read it, pick up a copy at the library or book store. And let folks know you’re doing it for Paris.
Most folks think of writing as a monkish, abstract endeavor more akin to meditation than exertion. But there’s a vital connection between the discipline of putting one word after another and taking one stride after another, as Nick Ripatrazone explains in this must-read Atlantic article:
The steady, repetitive movement of distance running triggers one’s intellectual autopilot, freeing room for creative thought. Neuroscientists describe this experience as a feeling of timelessness, where attention drifts and imagination thrives. …
Since I’ve returned to distance running, I’ve changed the way I think about writing. Writing exists in that odd mental space between imagination and intellect, between the organic and the planned. Runners must learn to accept the same paradoxes, to realize that each individual run has its own narrative, with twists and turns and strains.
Writers and runners use the same phrase—“hit my stride”—to describe the moment when exertion and work become joy. Writers stuck on a sentence should lace their sneakers and go for a jog, knowing that when they return, they will be a bit sweatier, more tired, but often more charged to run with their words.
We know a sound mind in a healthy body is sharper and livelier because mind and body are not two separate entities. Each one affects the other. But Ripatrazone expands on this truth by proposing that running helps the mind harmonize with the rhythm and tempo of the body, stimulating the writer’s ability to “focus on a single, engrossing task and enter a new state of mind entirely—word after word, mile after mile.”
I fully agree, and would add that other physical activities also promote writing ability. I’ve found that weightlifting, a strenuous, repetitive, and somewhat dangerous activity, sharpens my focus and endurance, two qualities essential to getting words onto paper. Yukio Mishima even wrote a book, Sun and Steel, about the benign discipline lifting weights imposed on his writing. And Ernest Hemingway relied on boxing to help him break occasional writer’s block.