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Printed from https://www.Writing.Com/view/932976
by Joy
Rated: 13+ · Book · Writing · #932976
Impromptu writing, whatever comes...on writing or whatever the question of the day is.
#824178 added August 1, 2014 at 8:35pm
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That Perpetual Challenge
Five years ago, on our local library's donated book sale, I came across a book titled, Ernest Hemingway on Writing, Edited by Larry W. Phillips, copyright 1984. This is probably one of the best, if not the best, anything I ever purchased for a dollar.

On page 15 of my prized possession, which has a home on the shelf next to my computer table, is a quote. I think most anyone of us can relate to Hemingway's feeling on writing in this quote, even if we cannot succeed as spectacularly as he has.

Hemingway says:
"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 that I have ever done—so I do it. And it makes me happy when I do it well."
To Ivan Kashkin, 1935 –Selected Letters, p. 419

Yes, whatever we write no matter how well and magnificently we put our words into lines and paragraphs, we can never write as well as it can be written. Yet, we still do it, with the distant hope of capturing at least a speck of perfection, as our complicated joy lies in that attempt.

While we translate our thinking into text, the further we go in writing the more alone we feel. We feel alone because of the way we must work, and our allowed time for writing feels as if it is becoming shorter and shorter. Then we feel if we waste that time, we are as guilty as having committed a sin, for which there is no literary forgiveness.

I as one have nightmares of symbolic quality about writing, on what I have omitted or committed to the paper or screen. In case of omitting, with Hemingway, it is a quality and it shows. As a much, much lesser writer, when I omit things, it shows up like holes. Yet, I try, still, for in trying is my delight and that proof for my existence.

Luckily for humanity, each one of us has a well inside--I think. In it is the learning of hearing, thinking, feeling, not feeling, seeing or ignoring. The wonder and brilliance of writing hides in that well. Whether we have it in reach to easily pluck or we have to wait for it to surface on its own, we still have to try.

As Hemingway implied in another quote, it is highly ill-fated and dangerous for me, as a writer, to talk about how I write in general or how I write any one thing. Only because it puts me in a box and constricts my options for experimentation. It is the biggest reason why I don't answer any questions such as: Why do you write? Where do you get your ideas from? Why do you or don't you publish?

For me, writing is motion in itself, no matter how much broader a certain part of my anatomy gets. In writing, everything changes as it moves. Sometimes, the story is there; at other times, it changes as I go along. As to characters, some of them come from real life; others I invent from my experience and understanding of people.

In any case, one thing seems to be certain to me: as writers we are all observers of ourselves, people, and life. With that, I am sure, Hemingway would agree.


Prompt: Pick one of Papa's quotes and create your blog entry with that as your focal point. This can go in many directions depending on your choice of quote. If you have a favorite Hemingway book, please share that too!

In answer to the prompt: All Hemingway books are my favorites. *Smile*

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