So you can read my books

Wednesday, March 12, 2014


Want to know why I, Ernest Hemingway,  am still talked about as a writer when so many of my contemporaries are forgotten?

I started out my adult life on the battlefield.

Life is a battle. Victory is not to the swift, to the valiant, or the brave.

(Though that is often the way to bet.)

It is to the one who fights smart.

Long ago Siv Maria wrote to Roland what many of you feel:

"I think I was born too late or too early. In the world we live in today there just is nothing new anymore."

I felt the same way when I was struggling to find the title to my new novel. I returned to the giants of the past.

Out of the verses of John Donne, I picked ...

We can prevail if we do not give up. If we assail a knot until we loosen it, we will succeed.

The Turkish author, Selim Yeniceri, wrote me:

"A great work of art comes through talent which you bring from birth,

but to make it successful in worldly terms, you have to be a strategist, because business world is really like a battleground."

Just an hour ago, I was talking with the ghost of Gore Vidal.

We were talking about how politicians love to dissemble with words.

Take Syrian President Bashar Assad who once said:

"We will be forgiving only for those who renounce terrorism.

When a surgeon in an operating room cuts and cleans and amputates, and the wound bleeds, do we say to him,

'Your hands are stained with blood?' "

This after last year's massacre in Houla, where more than 100 people--many of them children--were killed.

I mentioned Roland's past posts about the internet craze of writing an entire novel in a month this last November.

He rolled those Luciferian eyes of his and sighed,

"Ernest, it comes down to whether one wants to be a carpenter or a woodpecker."

He scowled, "With novels, as with erecting buildings, it all comes down to design. And proper design takes time as does everything done with quality in mind."

I nodded, "Of course. Kidnap a woman's child and demand she write a novel within a month. She will write that novel."

Vidal chuckled, "Any Philistine could, but would it be a good novel? It is a truism of human nature that what one practices, one becomes.

If they practice slovenly writing, it is a certainty that they will become slovenly writers."

He smiled evilly. "Now, has Roland's penchant for geting into trouble gotten any less? And if not, do present me with the gory details."

And so I did. But Roland is a friend, so you will have to imagine the lurid tales I told Vidal.


  1. For Whom the Bell Tolls is sitting on one of my TBR shelves. Books everywhere and no time, or not much of it, like the white rabbit.

    Hope things are going well for you.

  2. Hi Roland,
    Nice to be here,
    The title attracted me since I am a carpenter's son!
    My Father was a skilled carpenter but along with him I did some woodpecker's job and used to spoiled things of his fine works and i am fired!! :-)
    But Now I want to be skilled carpenter in this field like our age old legend Earnest Hemingway!!!
    Thanks for sharing this.
    I have a small suggestion the white bright letters in black background is giving trouble to the eyes. Just a suggestion pl. think on this so that people like me when visit will not ran away from there. Have a happy weekend. Phil
    comes down to whether one wants to be a carpenter or a woodpecker."

  3. I think, I hope, I am an aborist rather than either a carpenter or a woodpecker.
    Just the same, I admire the determination (and the beauty) of the woodpecker and marvel at the creation of the carpenter.
    Part of the reason that Hemingway is still read is the beauty of his prose. However, the sheer messiness of his private life has a part to play as well. If he could do it, despite x, y and z, then perhaps there is hope for me...

  4. D.G.:
    No Time is the catch phrase for all rare blood couriers! I understand completely. Sigh.

    I am still weak, but things are going well. Your emails were a source of strength -- THANK YOU. :-)

    P V:
    I sometimes feel like a woodpecker in life, surrounded by carpenters who know what they are doing!

    I wish you the best of luck with your writing dream.

    I hate that my bright letters give you problems. I will think about what to do about it. Thanks!

    Elephant's Child:
    Tree removal is much too hard for me! I've done it for my mother in our yard! But growing trees from saplings and nuturing them is rewarding.

    There was one woodpecker whose early morning routine made me less than happy as a child!

    You're right: Hemingway managed to write some excellent prose while living a hurting and hurtful life. Gives us hope to be able to write well during chaos, right?

  5. There's so much to be learned from reading the giants who came before us. Because even though times change, the nature of humanity and its struggles stay the same--and to write well you have to understand those things and wrestle with them in your own work.

    And I love that both Hemingway and I can be inspired by the same John Donne work.

  6. You really captured the spirit of Gore Vidal in this post. I remember reading his novel Burr so long ago and sinking into the flow of his sentences and his satire.

    Still, I'm gonna say something heretical here and confess that I didn't like For Whom the Bell Tolls. Much as I love some of Hemingway's other works, this one didn't resonate with me.

  7. Connie:
    Indeed. Times change but the human heart remains the same: in conflict with itself and others.

    It is nice to realize that some common verse struck a chord with yourself and a master writer.

    I'm glad you think I caught Mr. Vidal's spirit. I truly enjoy his essays though I have not read his fiction.

    Nothing heretical about not liking a book many others do. I bet there is a sizable number who feel like you do. :-)