So you can read my books

Tuesday, August 13, 2013


On this day in 1923 Ernest Hemingway published his first book, Three Stories and Ten Poems

This was an edition of 300 copies, put out by friend and fellow expatriate, the writer-publisher Robert McAlmon. 

Both had arrived in Paris in 1921, Hemingway an unpublished 22-year-old with a handful of letters of introduction provided by Sherwood Anderson and with his own clear imperative:

 "All you have to do is write one true sentence." 

Why just one true sentence?  

Because if it is, in fact, true to the marrow of your bones, the bleeding of your soul,

 it will lead to another and to another ... until a true story is told that touches the bruises of the hearts reading your story.

Listen to him as he watches a girl from afar as he writes at his darkened table in a Paris cafe:

"The story was writing itself and I was having a hard time keeping up with it. I ordered another rum St. James and I watched the girl whenever I looked up, or when I sharpened the pencil with a pencil sharpener with the shavings curling into the saucer under my drink.

I've seen you, beauty, and you belong to me now, whoever you are waiting for and if I never see you again, I thought. You belong to me and all Paris belongs to me and I belong to this notebook and this pencil." 

Each of us has the potential of becoming another Hemingway ... in our own style.

"Not me!" you protest.  "I'm not a Hemingway."

How do you know?  How do you know what lies within you unless you try?

What You Are Inside Only Matters Because of What It Makes You Do

You may believe your talent is one in a million, but it is what you do with it that counts. Make it an inner contract to finish what you start, to wring that final chapter out of your imagination, and to brave rejection and put it out there either by self-publication or submitting to agents/editors.
Curiosity:File:Curious kitten.jpg
"The important thing is not to stop questioning. Curiosity has its own reason for existing.

One cannot help but be in awe when he contemplates the mysteries of eternity, of life, of the marvelous structure of reality.

It is enough if one tries merely to comprehend a little of this mystery every day. Never lose a holy curiosity."
- Albert Einstein

Most writers are curious by nature. We look at the world around us and wonder at it.

Who are these people? What are we all doing here? Where are we heading? Why do we do the things we do? How will we achieve our goals?

Remember how curious you were as a child? Everything you encountered spawned a series of questions because you were trying to learn and understand the world around you.

Bring that childlike curiosity back, and you’ll never need to look far for new, inspiring writing ideas.

By fostering curiosity, we can create a fountain of ideas.

It doesn’t matter what form your writing takes or what genre you’re writing in. By coming up with intriguing questions, you’ll soon find yourself overwhelmed with inspiration.
Take the basic questions and put a riveting spin to them:

Who does my main character trust? What does that say about them? About the trusted person?

What motivates people to take drastic actions?

Where do these people want to be?

When does a child become an adult?

Why does this story matter?

How do you describe something that doesn’t really exist?


  1. Sorry, everyone, Blogger decided to make this April Fool's Day for me. I hope you can enjoy my post despite the tinkering of Blogger! :-)

  2. Ha! This is why I write all my posts in strict HTML, so I can control all the whacky formatting Blogger (and all other HTML generators) tack on.

    As for the post, very true. Which is the point, I suppose.

    - Eric

  3. Thanks, Eric!
    I guess that is what I will have to do from now on. We learn by trial and error -- me, mostly by error! :-)

  4. Yes, one true sentence and then another, built on the first, and so on. Gee, that Hemingway dude was a looker. I visited his place in Florida a while back, and there was like an army of cats there. Pretty, but creepy estate.

  5. Catherine:
    People only think of Hemingway older with that beard -- but in Paris, he cut a stalwart handsome look! :-)

    I want to see his estate, too. All those cats are descendants of his own cats -- with extra toes on their paws!!

  6. I love the letters of 20th century American writers. The ones in Henry Miller on Writing are delicious - he's a salty old cuss, but a joyful, awestruck one, and such a pleasure to read. And thanks for popping round to say hello; things with me are good, nothing but words and books all day :)

  7. I'll have to check Henry Miller's letters on writing. I was happy to pop in to check on you. It sounds like you are happy -- which is a wonder these days! May it keep on being so for you!! :-)