Thursday, February 24, 2011

An Email From Mr. Hemingway

To R-- Face it, your first book isn't good, and no one wants it. Yet.
Sit down and work and then who knows? Look at words with innocence. See them as new things. Write what you feel, and use simple language, but most of all, make it true. There is no master of this craft, and if you're looking for easy, go someplace else. Critics can tear your writing apart or worse, politely ignore it. They can break you, nearly destroy your hope if you let them. Never mind. It doesn't matter a damn. You can't be defeated, not completely. Remember Santiago? 84 days is nothing to the whole of life. Today is the 85th, and there are many big fish in the sea. Fight the good fight. Let your blood sing, listen, and then write it's song . . .

Well, friends. Mr. Hemingway is an intimidating muse, isn't he? As a teenager, I read The Old Man and the Sea, Hemingway's last story, and loved it. My grandfather gave a copy to my mother and years later, she passed it on to me. I don't remember anything about my grandpa since he died when I was a baby, but I do know he had excellent taste in books.

Ernest Hemingway had a big, often cantankerous, heart and an even greater talent. I've wanted to write an email from him for a long time, but I knew I would never get his voice exactly right. Perhaps, it's a credit to him that I even tried.

Mr. Hemingway once said he loved the world and that he would be sorry to leave it. Surely the world was sorry to see him leave so abruptly. If you haven't read Hemingway's work, you need to soon. You're doing yourself an injustice by putting it off. Look for his short stories as well, they show a different side of this remarkable writer.

Do you have any goals you're working on? I'd love to hear what they are. You have my complete support and encouragement. My ambition is to finish the rewrite of my novel The Second Life in the next month, send it off to my favorite editing company, fix my mistakes, and begin querying agents in time for my birthday in May. This accomplished, I'd like to think I had done something worthwhile in my 44th year. Of course, there are always the revisions to be done on my first novel Charm Bracelet. Rejected a whopping 79 times, there is still a lot to revise.

But that can keep until I'm 45.

Cheers to all writers and readers of words! May we stand on the shoulders of giants and be worthy of the view.


  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. Woops! Comment, take 2!

    Roxie, I love it! Hemmingway IS an intimidating muse...I count him as one of my own and he scares the beejezus out of me everytime ;)

    I'll be copying this email down and keeping it close from Mr. Hemmingway. It's perfect.

    Goals? Get my trilogy edited and a query composed for book one. Best of luck to your edits and query before your birthday! I'm cheering for you!!


  3. I only wish that Mr. Hemingway had been a little nicer to Mr. Fitzgerald. We will never know how different their legacies might have been, had they remained true friends until the end.

  4. Jen-- Good luck on your edits! I'm in the trenches with you. We can do it!

    Bruce-- I agree with you. Hemingway should have shown more kindness and less criticism of his early friend. Both Fitzgerald and Hemingway might have benefited from the others support.

  5. This is a fun and inspiring post!

    My goal is to finish the picture book I'm working on and revise the MG novel that's been cooling.
    My Blog

  6. I just completed writing my first full-lenght play. I had some talented friends read through it with me on Sat. morning. A 10 page cutting is going off to a women's playwright night in Grand Forks, ND, and I have plans to produce it this May right here in river city. Ahhhhhhhh! That's me screaming. It's exciting and scary all at once.
    Best wishes to you and your stories.

  7. This is just what I needed today! I'm having to rewrite some work and feeling a little down about it. Thanks for the pick me up.

    As for goals. I'm trying to read through 30 books before the end of March. I'm doing well so far. =)

  8. I heart Hemingway. He has such a way of getting to the point, with such economical use of words.

    Goals? I need to get my first draft done in the next six weeks.

  9. Good luck with your revisions! I'm still stuck in a rut with the first draft of my current novel, but hopefully I'll be joining you soon!

  10. KNowing we're all in this together encourages me and carries me along. Hugs :O)

  11. Oh lovely Roxy!!! You forgot to add " And Papa loved CATS." LOL!!!!!

    Awww but seriously!!! What great words "use simple language but most of all make it true".


    GOOD LUCK with your writing goals fabulous Roxy!!! I've read your pieces here and I think you have such feel for words and emotions - I just know you'll make it!!! Take care

  12. The Old Man and the Sea is my favorite work of his. Great email from Hemingway. That was so nice of him to give you a few words of advice and encouragement. And good luck with all your revisions!

  13. Support between writers makes the whole process so much easier. Thanks for your encouraging words!

    Old Kitty-- You're right! I should have put that in. Papa did love cats! Hilarious. You always crack me up.

  14. My favorite favorite book of Hem's. The lion on the beach has always been one of my fondest memories.

    Goals -- to finish the first draft of MisMatched by the end of Feb. Hope to revise in March and query by my birthday on Earth Day.

    Sorry about Charm Bracelet. I loved that story.

  15. Hemingway has always been an inspiration to me. My focus in school was on American literature, so of course, Hemingway was a big part of it. I loved his novels, but his short stories were some of the best, most perfectly crafter works of art. He must have slaved over every word. I know I could never write like Hemingway, but he inspires me to do better.

    Thanks so much for the uplifting words, Roxy.

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  17. I'm glad you liked this post, Carol. Hemingway's short stories are some of my favorites. Thanks for your lovely comment!

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  19. Roxy: This is my favorite post. As you know from following my blog, I am a huge Hemingway fan. I have even written books on the author, one of which actually sold! He was clearly the author of the century, and just the fact that you identify with his spirit tells me your writing career will blossom. Unfortunately, publishing good literature is not the same as it was in Ernie's day. We should really talk sometime. Thanks for the great post.

    By the way, I have read everything he wrote, and my favorite novel of all time is For Whom the Bell Tolls.

  20. May huh? That's cool. I hope you reached your goal :)

  21. I very much enjoyed looking around your blog. Nice and uncluttered, and best of all, really good content.

    Hemingway is a great inspiration. My favorites are Graham Greene and Albert Camus.