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Tuesday, March 20, 2012

I AM HEMINGWAY. WHO ARE YOU?

{"We are all losers, defeated in the end by death.

But in the long run, defeat is as revealing and fundamental as victory."
- Ernest Hemingway.}

I am Hemingway.

Who are you?

Can you answer in one sentence? If not, how then will you write a fictional character well?

What is the basic truth of life? Do you know? You need to in order to write a good novel.

The basic truth of life is to be found in the human soul:

the will to live, the will to persevere, to endure, to defy.

It is the frontier mentality -

the individual is on his own, like a Pilgrim walking into the unknown with neither shelter nor guidance, thrown upon his own resources, his strength and his judgment.

My truth shapes my style which is the style of understatement since my hero is a hero of action, which is the human condition.

All my life I was obsessed with death. I was seriously wounded at midnight on July 18, 1918 at Fossalta, Italy. I nearly died.

I was the first American to be wounded in Italy during World War I.

I felt my soul go out of my body. In the blackness of midnight, I died and felt my soul go out of me, go off, and then come back. Perhaps that near-death experience is why I am now a ghost. I do not know.

I do know that I became obsessed with death :

Deep sea fishing, bull-fighting, boxing, big-game hunting, war, -

all are means of ritualizing the death struggle in my mind -

it is very explicit in my books such as A Farewell to Arms and Death in the Afternoon, which were based on my own experiences.

And again, briefly, in In Our Time in the lines on the death of Maera.

It reappears, in another setting and form, in the image of immortality in my African story The Snows of Kilimanjaro, where the dying Harry knows he is going to the peak called "Ngàje Ngài",

which means, as I explained in the introductory note, "the House of God."

Yet, it takes more than being haunted by your inner demons to write well.

It takes imagination.

Imagination is the one thing besides honesty that a good writer must have.

The more he learns from experience, the more truly he can imagine. If he gets so he can truly imagine, people will think that the things he relates all really happened -- and that he is just reporting.

If you can't have a near-death experience, the next best training for being a good writer is an unhappy childhood. And thanks to parents being all too flawed, most people have had that.

But forget your personal tragedy. We are all damned from the start so join the club. It is a sad fact that you have to be especially hurt like hell before you can write seriously.

It's a law of nature. Human nature. And like most laws, you don't have to like it. You just have to live with it.

Dostoevsky was made by being sent to Siberia. Writers are forged in injustice as a sword is forged in the furnace.

Perhaps that is why I suffer like a bastard when I don't write. And why I feel empty and f____ out afterwards. And why I feel so good while writing.

Writing is something that you can never do as well as it can be done. It is a perpetual challenge, and it is more difficult than anything else I have ever done -- which is why I do it. And it makes me happy when I do it well.

And after each novel, I feared I would never write as well again.

That is why I loved to cover war as a journalist. Every day and each night, there was a strong possibility that I would get killed and not have to write.

Writing is like a disease. I have to write to be happy whether I get paid for it or not. And that makes it worse.

That changes it from a disease to a vice. And then I want to do it better than anybody has ever done it which makes it into an obsession. Even though I am dead, I still write. Look at me here in this blog.

How is it for you out there?
***

9 comments:

  1. I just read "The Paris Wife" is was quite interesting. It's loosly based on the relationship between Hemingway and his first wife.

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  2. Jessica:
    I've heard good things about that book. Hemingway was a complex man. Thanks for stopping and staying to chat. Roland

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  3. Hello my friend, looks like lots going on around here. It was good to click over and hear Papa's words via you. I actually just published a post that refers to both you AND him. Hmm.

    Happy New Digs! that rebel, Olivia

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  4. The first story that I had published was about the death of my grandfather, living in my bedroom under hospice care. I think it was my first "success," because I connected deeply. Yes, death does that.

    Loved the paragraph "Writing is like a disease. I have to write to be happy whether I get paid for it or not. And that makes it worse." Very true - I would so love to quit and be a normal happy person! thanks for sharing.

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  5. Roland,

    Please forgive me for not being around. I caught up on all your posts a little while ago, but feedly threw you off my reader again. I need to set some sort of reminder somewhere to check your blog, as you just won't stay put :-(

    HUGE congratulations on making it through to the next round of ABNA.

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  6. Hi Roland .. yes first congratulations on reaching the quarter finals of ABNA .. that's great - and I don't know how you do it all .. and moving et al.

    I saw the Hemingway book "The Paris Wife" .. and thought I should read it - as I'm constantly Hemingwayed here!

    Hope all's well .. cheers for now - Hilary

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  7. Thanks, Olivia:
    Still at work! I live here! I'll visit your cyber home and see what mischief you've come up with! LOL.

    Jenna:
    We are who we are. I think you are one of the special ones.

    Sarah:
    I thought I was just boring you. :-) Glad to hear I was wrong. Thank you for feeling happy for me. The odds now get viciously against poor Hibbs!

    Hilary:
    Yes, Hemingway's ghost does spend a lot of time here! I think you would enjoy THE PARIS WIFE. I have so many demands on my time lately that my head spins!

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  8. What a beautiful post.

    It must be nearly impossible to have a reader feel emotional depth that the writer intends--if the writer has not first experienced those emotions.

    Death...sitting next to someone you love while their life wanes. It is all, from the trivial--the snag in your fingernail to the mysteries of the universe-- what lies beyond a human's last breath. Death, having the finite nature of our existence thrust upon us; nothing cuts so deep.

    It makes us face our souls.

    Nice choice for your post.

    And, congratulations on advancing in ABNA! All the best in the next round. I have just begun to read your blog, and think you have a wonderful voice. :-)

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