Writer’s Quote Wednesday – Happy Birthday Hemingway

Happy Wednesday everyone! We made it half-way through the week and that is surely something to be proud of. If you are feeling a little run down already and in need of a little push to get you the rest of the way to the weekend check out Colleen’s weekly event Writer’s Quote Wednesday. Every week bloggers share their favorite quotes to inspire and motivate each other to keep going. My contribution this week is from the classic American author, Earnest Hemingway, whose birthday was just yesterday.

I think just about everyone, every American at least, has heard of Earnest Hemingway.

Born on July 21, 1899 Hemingway in Oak Park, Illinois, a suburb of Chicago to Clarence Edmonds Hemingway, a physician, and, Grace Hall-Hemingway, a musician. Both were well respected members of their community. As a child in school he played many sports and excelled in English class. In his junior year he took a journalism class which was set up as a newspaper office.

They produced a school newspaper called The Trapeze to which Hemingway submitted a piece about a local performance by the Chicago Symphony Orchestra in January 1916. This would be his first published piece.

Hemingway’s first novel, The Sun Also Rises was “a truly gripping story, told in a lean, hard, athletic narrative prose that puts more literary English to shame.” The Sun Also Rises is written in the spare, tight prose that made Hemingway famous, and, according to James Nagel, “changed the nature of American writing.” He was not a fan of complex syntax and about 70 percent of his sentences are simple,almost childlike and without subordination.

Hemingway produced most of his work between the mid-1920s and the mid-1950s. He published seven novels, six short story collections and two non-fiction works. Three novels, four collections of short stories and three non-fiction works were published posthumously. Many of these are considered classics of American literature.

In 1954, when Hemingway was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature for “his mastery of the art of narrative, most recently demonstrated in The Old Man and the Sea, and for the influence that he has exerted on contemporary style.”

After that Hemingway’s health declined. He suffered from depression and was treated for numerous conditions such as high blood pressure and liver disease. He wrote A Moveable Feast, a memoir of his years in Paris, and retired permanently to Idaho. There he continued to battle with deteriorating mental and physical health.

Early on the morning of July 2, 1961, Ernest Hemingway committed suicide in his Ketchum home.

“All you have to do is write one true sentence. Write the truest sentence that you know.”

Ernest Hemingway

I’ve had this quote sitting in my drafts for a long time now. It’s so simple yet so profound I wasn’t sure exactly how to articulate the way it made me feel. As a writer I practice what I like to refer to as “radical  authenticity”. I say only the things I believe to be true. Writing non-fiction means I take this very seriously and practice it literally, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t other ways to tell the truth.

When we write fiction we use lies and made-up stories to tell a truth about life and the human condition. The easiest way to see this is through poetry. Poetry gives us a way to tell a truth more plainly but in a beautiful way. I am working on learning different ways to write the truth. I work on poetry and soon I hope to work on telling good stories too. But no matter what I do I try my best to start with the truest thing I know.

If you start there and work your way out, I promise whatever you write will be something good.

Original image via Christian Gonzalez

Biographical information from Wikipedia, Goodreads, and Biography.com.


5 Replies to “Writer’s Quote Wednesday – Happy Birthday Hemingway”

What do you think?

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.