Adventures with (and lessons from) Ernest Hemingway

Think back to the first time you read a novel and it opened a new world. You finished the last page, sat back, and soaked it all in, knowing you read something grand.

Now imagine you jump on a train and travel across a continent to meet this literary giant and end up being their apprentice on a sailing vessel for a year. You have great discussions late into the night, have writing time (after all there is no place to go!), and you get a really really great tan.

Sounds like something from a movie, right? Well this happened to a man named Arnold SailingSamuelson in the spring of 1934. He met and was an apprentice to none other than Ernest Hemingway.

It might shock some of you, though not all, that I never liked Hemingway. His stripped down brilliance and clarity of prose is obvious to anyone trained in literature but, I think most of his stories are depressive like Burmese Days by George Orwell. However, I have begun to enjoy his stories more and more. Okay, let’s be honest. I was finally won over by Corey Stoll’s brilliant rendition of him in Midnight in Paris.

I wanted to share this article with my writer friends and thought a post was the best way to do that.

There were two things I took away from this article that I believe any writer should consider. I implore you to read the whole article by clicking HERE and post your thoughts below.

Lesson’s from Hemingway

  1. Never write too much in one sitting. Essentially, never empty yourself of everything you have. This way you will always be fresh and so will your book.
  2. Read good writers that are dead. Why? Because though they are dust their books have withstood the crashing waves of contemporary literature. Hemingway compiled a list of these books, which I have included below.
    •  “The Blue Hotel” by Stephen Crane
    • “The Open Boat” by Stephen Crane
    • Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert
    • Dubliners by James Joyce
    • The Red and the Black by Stendhal
    • Of Human Bondage by Somerset Maugham
    • Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy
    • War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy
    • Buddenbrooks by Thomas Mann
    • Hail and Farewell by George Moore
    • The Brothers Karamazov by Fyodor Dostoyevsky
    • The Oxford Book of English Verse
    • The Enormous Room by E.E. Cummings
    • Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte
    • Far Away and Long Ago by W.H. Hudson
    • The American by Henry James

Find some time to write today.



When The Writer Battles Self-Doubt


If there is anything a writer (or any artist) needs, it is that. After all, you are placing a short story, essay, painting, poem or some other original work out in the open for someone to love or scrutinize.

Though I have written for years and published a little, I still wrestle with small bouts of insecurity. The shadow comes when I blog, tell people I am a writer or submit the latest short story. I think I am not good enough, original enough, have not lived and experienced enough to put something amazing or meaningful together.

Over the last few months I created a writing space. I built bookshelves, put pictures up of my wife and kids, in order to have a place to write and keep my writer-ish things (like a sailboat, family heirlooms, hockey pucks and, most importantly, my leather bound journals).

Every once in a while I crack open a journal entry or two to review an important date of my life. The entry at 5am before I was married to my beautiful bride. The birth of my first daughter. The day I graduated college. The day my second daughter was born. I reflect and remember how much I have grown both as a writer and a person. Recently, I read my very first journal entry and smiled.

This “entry” consisted of a date, title, and a scrap from a devotional book. That’s right. My first attempt at a journal entry was also my first attempt at plagiarism.

Be what it is, I learned something. Something significant and comforting that I consider each time I embark on a new project.

I have come a long way.DSC_0073

I can see progress and joy in my entries and short stories. I see the love of something good and, even in the rarest of occasions, profound.

There are many things we build on. But they all come from the first word, the first step of trying something new. Maybe it works. Maybe it doesn’t.

That is not the point. The point is the step.

After a while you can see just how far you’ve come.

If there is any doubt in you writer – think about the piece before. Think about how far you’ve come. I did and find I am a lot further down the road than I could ever have expected.

And it gives me confidence to keep going.

Keep (or start) Writing.