The Strange Writing Habits of Writers

November is National Writing Month, so today I muse about how some writers write. Ernest Hemingway’s first rule for writers was to apply the seat of the pants to the seat of the chair. But not all authors are able to survive with such a simple approach.http://www.sandiegouniontribune.com/news/2015/nov/14/lederer-good-time-to-reflect-art-of-writing/

Every writer has his/her own comfort place where writing is easier and better for him/her. Hemingway often wrote standing up especially after the plane accidents but he also enjoyed writing at a big table. His fourth wife, Mary, created a studio for him on the Finca property but he never took to it and preferred to write in the house. He typed but he also did a fair amount long hand and edited long hand, slashing, writing, correcting, modifying.

Hem Standing
Hem Standing

The above article is about other writers’ habits. To quote the author of the article, Richard Lederer:

Francis Bacon knelt each day before creating his greatest works. Martin Luther could not write unless his dog was lying at his feet, while Ben Jonson needed to hear his cat purring. Marcel Proust sealed out the world by lining the walls of his study with cork. Gertrude Stein and Raymond Carver wrote in their cars, while Edmond Rostand preferred to write in his bathtub.

Marcel Proust
Marcel Proust
Jack Kerouac
Jack Kerouac

 

Emily Dickinson
Emily Dickinson (NOT EMILY, I AM TOLD. See below for the real Emily)

 

Edith Wharton
Edith Wharton

Emily Dickinson hardly ever left her home and garden. Wallace Stevens composed poetry while walking to and from work each day at a Hartford, Conn., insurance company. Alexander Pope and Jean Racine could not write without first declaiming at the top of their voices. Jack Kerouac began each night of writing by kneeling in prayer and composing by candlelight. Friedrich Schiller started each of his writing sessions by opening the drawer of his desk and breathing in the fumes of the rotten apples he had stashed there.

Some writers have donned and doffed gay apparel. Early in his career, John Cheever wore a business suit as he traveled from his apartment to a room in his basement. Then he hung the suit on a hanger and wrote in his underwear. Jessamyn West wrote in bed without getting dressed, as, from time to time, did Eudora Welty, Edith Wharton, Mark Twain and Truman Capote. John McPhee worked in his bathrobe and tied its sash to the arms of his chair to keep him from even thinking about deserting his writing room.

This is me again. So you always knew writers were a weird and rare breed. I don’t have any habits that rival the above. Give me a fire, one of my dogs, and some smooth jazz and I usually can get something down.

Any other strange writing habits out there?

I lick the paper before I can write.
I lick the paper before I can write.

Best, Christine

 

 

 

ADDENDUM: An astute reader wrote to say that the above photo is not of Emily Dickenson. So much for Google image search. Here is another and I hope it is correct.  Many thanks!  C

Emily Dickenson
Emily Dickenson

Terms Coined by Hemingway

#termscoinedbyhemingway

#Hemingwaytrivia

 

____Some people may think that the only phrase Hemingway coined was “grace under pressure.”  Here are a few more that he either coined or popularized:

1.)           Byline

Hem writing a by-line
Hem writing a by-line

 

In The Sun Also Rises, he notes, “I sorted out the carbons, stamped on a by-line.”

 

He may not have been the first to use it, but he was the first to get it out there and be popularized.

 

2.)           Spanish words or Italian words thrown into English and used as if we really know what they mean.  He used “ciao” in A Farewell to Arms and “cojones” in Death in the Afternoon.  There was a lot of Spanish thrown into For Whom the Bell Tolls and he also used a fair amount of Spanish in his regular English discussion.

Ciao baby or no cojones
Ciao baby or no cojones
On his own terms
On his own terms

 

3.)           Moment of truth – Hemingway used this phrase in Death in the Afternoon, his book about bull fighting.  The moment of truth occurs when there is a final thrust of the sword from the matador.  I hate bullfighting by the way but it was a different time and culture.

 

4.)           Shitfaced – When Hemingway used this in some letters, he meant a person who is beneath contempt.  It came into usage as a drunk much later.

shitfaced perhaps? Or maybe not. This was on safari.
shitfaced perhaps? Or maybe not. This was on safari.
Drunken people crossing
Drunken people crossing

 

 

5.)           Spooked – Hemingway used this in To Have and Have Not as a word for being unnerved as opposed to being alarmed.

 

An article written by Angela Tung in Wordnic talks about ten terms coined by Hemingway and she has quite a number more with their provenance. The cite is attached for easy reference.  I also would add that I believe he coined the phrase “the earth moved” when he wrote the love scene between Robert Jordan and Maria.

10 terms coined by Ernest Hemingway

 

Lillian Ross’ Profile of Hemingway

How Do You Like It Now, Gentlemen?

The above is a link to the Lillian Ross interview with Hemingway, a sad betrayal of his kindness and friendship to a young writer.

There’s a famous profile of Hemingway that was published on May 13, 1950 in The New Yorker  done by a very young journalist at the time named Lillian Ross. Hemingway had helped her with her first big article about Sidney Franklin, the first Jewish-American bull fighter. Hemingway and Lillian Ross became friends and as Hemingway often did, he enjoyed taking this younger, very smart woman under his wing and addressing her as “daughter” and sharing some of the things that he knew with her.

Lillian's book after Hem's death
Lillian’s book after Hem’s death
Lillian Ross
Lillian Ross

 

Lillian Ross started working at The New Yorker in 1945 and seemed particularly adept at charming her subjects into saying things they might otherwise not say. She asked to do a profile on Hemingway, who needed the publicity like a hole in the head, but he agreed, hoping to help her career. She shadowed him for months and in particular went with him to New York on a three-day tour. Hemingway viewed it all as a lark.

 

Here’s where my objectivity stops. As I noted in my opening post three years ago, while I try to be objective about Hemingway and his flaws, which were many, I’m on his side. I’m not neutral. Lillian Ross’ article made him look like a self-involved jerk, almost ignorant. He thought she was his friend.

Hem relaxed
Hem relaxed

 

In that article are statements by Hemingway such as “Book is like engine. We have to slack her off gradually.” And then there’s this repeated gem apropos of nothing, “How do you like it now, Gentlemen.” Ross always maintained that it was an affectionate portrait of a wonderful writer, but, in essence, it made fun of him and it made him look ludicrous. If that’s how she saw him, then so be it. The press is free and she can write what she’d like to write, but don’t pretend it was an “affectionate” portrayal.

An older Lillian Ross
An older Lillian Ross

 

At the time, Lillian Ross was 24 years old and it was the opportunity of a lifetime to profile Ernest Hemingway, the biggest writer of the day. Years later, The New York Times wrote that “The effect of her severely unadorned portrait was to create an impression of an unpleasant egotist, a celebrity who, to a pathetic extent, had identified himself with his own public image.”   As one of Hemingway’s biographers, Jeffrey Meyers, wrote later that she’d repaid his generosity with meanness and malice, and established her reputation at his expense.” Quoting Meyers again, he notes that she never recorded or revealed the serious and sensitive side of his character and chose instead to portray him as a boring braggart. So how do you like it now, Gentlemen?

New book
New book

When Lillian published the profile in book form shortly after Hemingway’s death, she still claimed it was a sympathetic portrait of a great, loveable man. Few readers were fooled. She also claimed he was fine with it. True. He read it before publication; felt the dye was cast so said little; and passed on it, but it was not really “fine” with him. He was hurt.

reading
reading

 

If you look at the cover, could Lillian have picked a less attractive, less compelling photo? In a reissue, there’s a nice photo of Hemingway and Lillian on the front, but I believe the original shows a Hemingway looking out of it and bizarre. If I’m wrong on this, someone out there probably knows, so please correct me.lillian_ross_book_01

 

Lillian Ross has written a new book in which Ross has collected selected pieces, including the Hemingway profile along with newer works spanning her sixty year career as a journalist. It is called “Reporting Always: Writings From The New Yorker.” It was published last week by Scribner’s, which, of course, is Hemingway’s publisher.

 

I can’t help being wounded for him. He trusted her and thought they were having some fun together and that she would not portray him as a lout. It’s his fault in part, no question for being too casual and not foreseeing damage for not taking the interview seriously. However, his loyalty was betrayed.ErnestHemingway and cat

 

Take a read and see what you think. Perhaps you’ll see it differently. I’m happy to stand corrected or confronted.

Love,

Christine

anger and betrayal
anger and betrayal

How well do you know Hemingway?

Hem on beach
Hem on beach
Key West
Key West

#Hemingwaytrivia

Hemingway and Key West have influenced one another in many surprising ways. See for yourself: Take the How Well Do You Know Hemingway? quiz.

So I think I know almost everything about Hemingway. I got 7 of ten correct and I think I know everything. However, I misread one question or I would have had 8!

It’s fun. Give it a go if you think you know Hem. Love, Christine

Thinking
Thinking

Hemingway Gets Saucy

The gourmet sauce company is using the life and travels of the American novelist to inspire a line of culinary flavors. Each flavor in the line is based on Hemingway’s exciting life and travels to places such as Cuba and Spain.

And now Hemingway has sauces inspired by his life and travels. What next? Leisure wear perhaps.

what the young writer wears while writing
what the young writer wears while writing

Fun Fact: Banned Hemingway

Catherine and Frederic
Catherine and Frederic

I knew that Hemingway’s books were banned in various communities and countries. The below are added nuances.

 

For Whom the Bell Tolls (1940) by Ernest Hemingway. The story considers suicide in preference to capture during the Spanish Civil War. In 1940, the U.S. Postal Service refused to let it go through the mail.

For whom the bell tolls in Polish
For whom the bell tolls in Polish

Hemingway lived and wrote in Piggott, northeast of Jonesboro, around 1930. He worked on another of his frequently banned books, A Farewell to Arms (1929) while in Piggott, where he is remembered by the Hemingway-Pfeiffer Museum and Educational Center.

Film about Hemingway and his boat Captain, Gregorio Fuentes

Hemingway’s boat played an integral role in his story, and now its sister ship is in South Florida and ready to make her film debut.

 

EH 8124P Ernest Hemingway fishing, Key West, 1928. Ernest Hemingway Photograph Collection, John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum, Boston.
EH 8124P Ernest Hemingway fishing, Key West, 1928.
Ernest Hemingway Photograph Collection, John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum, Boston.

 

Hemingway Exhibit at the Morgan Library/Museum Sept ’15-Jan 31 ’16

on safari in Kenya
on safari in Kenya

#Hemingwayexhibit

Ernest Hemingway was a maker of lists and a collector of his life’s ephemera. For the first time, some of the objects that this American writer gathered during his long career — bullfighting stubs from Pamplona in Spain, boastful fishing logs from expeditions off the Cuban coast, coy letters to a mistress, penciled drafts of stories — will be on display in an exhibition at the Morgan Library & Museum from Sept. 25 through Jan. 31.

Oh, the fun of this. About half of the items in the exhibit are being borrowed from the Kennedy Library (Boston) Collection. Some were private letters so don’t be too hard on him. If letters you wrote to a close friend or lover were made public  .they might not include your most eloquent turns of phrase. If you can manage, this will be a great stroll through Hemingway lore and history.

Always reading
Always reading

Was Hemingway Religious?

#Hemingwayscatholicism

#Hemingwaysfuneral

#HemingwayandPauline

 

Ernest Hemingway was born a Protestant but converted to Catholicism when he married Pauline Pfeiffer, his second Wife. Pauline was an observant Catholic who took her religion seriously.  Hemingway, who was never observant, but arguably always religious told Gary Cooper that becoming a Catholic was one of the best things he’d done in his life. Gary was also Catholic and hem and Coop had a life long bond. (Rent or buy the movie The True Gen about their touching lifelong friendship. They died 6 weeks apart: Coop of cancer and Hem of a self inflicted gun shot wound.) I am excerpting here from an interview with a Hemingway scholar, H. R. Stoneback (Known as Stoney) on this point and on the concept of a pilgrimage. He is interviewd by Allie Baker of The Hemingway Project.

Coop
Coop
Spencer tracy
Spencer Tracy, a devout Catholic, starred in the allegorical “The Old Man and the Sea”

  AB: In your essay, “Pilgrimage Variations: Hemingway Sacred Landscapes,” you come to the conclusion that “The ever-recurring center of Hemingway’s work . . . is the notion of pilgrimage.” You write; “The Sun Also Rises, far from being the chronicle of aimless lost generation that it is often taken for, is Hemingway’s first meditation on the theme of pilgrimage.” This is a new idea for readers who have not read your work. Can you elaborate on this? .

Pauline
Pauline

Since we now live in an insistently secular culture, where religious concerns are often seen as an embarrassment, it may be useful to state certain things in a straight declarative manner, more directly than I would usually say:  1) Hemingway, raised a Protestant, takes religious questions seriously from the beginning; (and I mean specifically religious questions not vaguely spiritual meanderings);  2) Hemingway, an adult convert to Catholicism, takes his Catholicism seriously; 3) Pilgrimages, specific historical Catholic Pilgrimages, pervade his work in his usual understated and allusive style, and often the deepest and foundational layers of the submerged iceberg of his story and his style are religious and Catholic and Pilgrimage-centered; 4) The Sun Also Rises, for example, has many explicit and implicit references to specifically Catholic Pilgrimage sites–from Sainte Odile to Lourdes to Roncevaux to Santiago de Compostela; 5) When Hemingway the recent formal Catholic convert goes on his honeymoon with his very Catholic bride Pauline to the pilgrimage country of the Camargue, they are pilgrims; you could say they are making a lower-case pilgrimage to the Mediterranean beaches and an upper-case specifically Catholic Pilgrimage to the sacred place of Les Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer; 6) True pilgrims are never “lost,” certainly never “aimless” for no one is more “aimed” with a fixed, set destination than a pilgrim; Jake Barnes, the Catholic Pilgrim, knows exactly where he is going and why.

 AB: When and where do you think Hemingway’s Pilgrimage started? HRS: . When and where did Hemingway’s Pilgrimage start? Hard to say exactly. Maybe when he first lit candles in a Catholic church in Petoskey; when, after his wounding, he was given Last Rites by a Catholic priest on an Italian battlefield; when he went to the great Cathedral of Chartres and changed the title of his novel from The Lost Generation to The Sun Also Rises; when he started carrying and wearing (as he did much of his life) Catholic religious medals; certainly, by the time of the writing of The Sun Also Rises and his Pilgrimages to Les Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer and Santiago de Compostela soon after, he is a confirmed Catholic Pilgrim.

This is me, Christine, again. Below is a portion of  the New York times Obituary of Ernest Hemingway

Ketchum, Idaho, July 4 (UPI)–Ernest Hemingway will be buried under a blanket of red roses; beside one of his closest friends. The grave was dug today in Ketchum Cemetery beside that of Taylor Williams, a hunting and fishing guide who was Mr. Hemingway’s frequent companion for twenty years. He died in 1959.

A simple graveside service was planned. The time was left uncertain pending the arrival of Mr. Hemingway’s son Patrick, who has been hunting in Africa. The services may be held tomorrow.

The Rev. Robert J. Waldemann, Roman Catholic pastor of St. Charles Church in Hailey, Idaho, and of Our Lady of the Snows in Ketchum, will conduct the services. Father Waldemann said that there would be no formal Catholic services. He said there would be no mass and probably no rosary, but he said that the matter of accident or suicide had no bearing on the funeral. “We pass no judgement on that and asked no questions,” he said.

There still was no official decision–and there may never be–as to whether the death of the writer early Sunday from the blast of a 12-gauge shotgun had been an accident or suicide. However, the fact that Mr. Hemingway had been divorced would bar him from a Catholic Church funeral. Catholic sources said there was nothing improper in a Catholic  priest saying prayers at graveside.

 

 

RIP, Mr. Hemingway.

More religious than one might expect
More religious than one might expect

More Hemingway and Fitzgerald

James Joyce
James Joyce
Scott and Zelda as seen in Midnight in Paris
Scott and Zelda as seen in Midnight in Paris
Hem and Scott
Hem and Scott

In the world of renowned and important authors, it can be argued that no writer has ever given us as many interesting real life tales and correspondence than the “Papa” of 20th century fiction: Ernest Hemingway

They were the top dogs, supporters and admirers of the other. A few anecdotes of their relationship. note however that much as I love Hemingway, some of the anecdotes in A Moveable Feast may be read with some sense of possible embellishment–on occasion.  Still, the relationship between Hem and Fitz is always fascinating.

Scott
Scott