“[A] long time ago you stopped listening except to the answers to your own questions…That’s what dries a writer up (we all dry up. That’s no insult to you in person) not listening. That is where it all comes from. Seeing, listening.
…For Christ sake write and don’t worry about what the boys will say nor whether it will be a masterpiece nor what. I write one page of masterpiece to ninety one pages of shit. I try to put the shit in the wastebasket…
…Forget your personal tragedy. We are all bitched from the start and you especially have to hurt like hell before you can write seriously. But when you get the damned hurt use it—don’t cheat with it. Be as faithful to it as a scientist—but don’t think anything is of any importance because it happens to you or anyone belonging to you.
About this time I wouldn’t blame you if you gave me a burst. Jesus it’s marvellous to tell other people how to write, live, die etc.
…Go on and write.”
- Ernest Hemingway gives the best pep talks.
I think that many young writers confuse having a writerly persona with being a writer. They want to be like Hemingway by drinking lots of whiskey, hunting or traveling. And while emulating Hemingway’s machismo is a fast track to becoming a semi-worldly drunk, it doesn’t make you a writer. Hemingway’s comic book persona, the one he intentionally crafted for us on his African safaris and his boxing bouts and his fishing trips, the one that is parodied in Woody Allen’s “Midnight in Paris,” will teach you nothing about writing. The lessons are in his sentences.