Gems About Writing: Two from Hemingway

Writers have different technique, styles, and superstitions about writing.  Here are a few tips from the greats.
1. “There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed.” Ernest Hemingwayhemingway-age-30
2. “Go spit in the face of our inevitable obsolescence and finish your @#$%ng novel.” John Green
3. “There are no laws for the novel. There never have been, nor can there ever be.” Doris Lessingdoris-lessing
4. “One thing that helps is to give myself permission to write badly. I tell myself that I’m going to do my five or 10 pages no matter what and that I can always tear them up the following morning if I want. I’ll have lost nothing- writing and tearing up five pages would leave me no further behind than if I took the day off.” Lawrence Block
5.  “First, find out what your hero wants, then just follow him!” Ray Bradburyray-bradbury
6. “I love deadlines. I like the whooshing sound they make as they fly by.” Douglas Adams
7. “Writing isn’t about making money, getting famous, getting dates, getting laid or making friends. In the end, it’s about enriching the lives of those who will read your work, and enriching your own life as well.” Stephen Kingstephen-king
8.  “If there’s a book that you want to read, but it hasn’t been written yet, then you must write it.” Toni Morrisontoni-morrison
9. “Writing a novel is like driving a car at night. You can see only as far as your headlights, but you can make the whole trip that way.” E.L. Doctorowel-doctorow
10. “If I waited for perfection I would never write a word.” Margaret Atwood
11. “When I sit down to write a book, I do not say to myself ‘I am going to produce a work of art.’ I write it because there is some lie that I want to expose, some fact to which I want to draw attention, and my initial concern is to get a hearing.” George Orwellgeorge-orwell
12. “It’s none of their business that you had to learn to write. Let them think you were born that way.” Ernest Hemingway

14. “Don’t try to figure out what other people want to hear from you; figure out what you have to say. It’s the one and only thing you have to offer.” Barbara Kingsolver.

15. “What really knocks me out is a book that, when you’re all done reading it, you wish the author that wrote it was a terrific friend of yours and you could call him up on the phone whenever you felt like it.” JD Salingerj-d-salinger
And there you have it!
Happy holidays and THANK YOU for reading this blog and keeping interest in Hemingway alive.  Love, Christine
Marlene Dietrich, great pal of Hemingway
Marlene Dietrich, great pal of Hemingway
Hem in Tweed
Hem in Tweed: Happy New Year

My New Novel: The Rage of Plum Blossoms

Dear Friends: My new novel–The Rage of Plum Blossoms–was just published by Kindle’s own private press. It is available in ebook and paperback on Amazon. There are a few Hemingway references and if you like a mystery with some humor, please check it out. My previous novel, Tell Me When It Hurts, had more Hemingway references as the heroine is a big fan of his. The reviews so far have been good so please see if it might appeal to you.

The book trailer will be out soon. I’ll post it when it is. It came out really well in terms of capturing the mood and it’s short–always a good thing.  Thank you so much for reading. Best, Christine



Attorney Quinn Jones is in over her head. Her husband, Jordan Chang, Annapolis grad and superstar businessman, has been found dead outside their Greenwich Village brownstone. He’s wearing clothes that aren’t his, and was last seen at a place he never went while consorting with people he shouldn’t. Since NYPD has labeled Jordan’s death a suicide, Quinn is on her own to uncover the truth. Courtrooms, Quinn knows. Chanel No. 5, horses, frizzy hair, and martial arts, she knows. Murder, she doesn’t know but she’s learning fast in order to stay alive. With a few clues to work with, including a photo of Jordan with a stunning unknown woman and a copy of a 1986 check payable to Jordan for twelve million dollars, Quinn stalks the back streets of Chinatown, haunted by the need to know what happened that day and why.

My Bouvier is being used as a branding symbol.

Thank you again. Love, Christine


Visit to Hemingway Collection Part 2

Continuation of post regarding my visit to the Kennedy Library, Hemingway Exhibit on Between the Wars

Hem and Hadley near their wedding
Hem and Hadley near their wedding

There was an anecdote displayed of an interview that Hemingway had with George Plimpton. Plimpton knew that Hemingway had written the end of A Farewell to Arms something like 39 times. Plimpton, a writer himself, asked if there was a technical problem that stumped him and why he kept re-writing the end. What was the problem? What was the hold-up???Image result for george plimpton

Hemingway, in typical succinct style, replied “getting the words right.”

Old joke but still makes me smile: A farewell to arms
Old joke but still makes me smile: A farewell to arms

Finally, a famous quote from A Farewell to Arms (1929) was posted. Most people know the first sentence, but not the next one. It reads, “The world breaks everyone and after many are strong in the broken places.” Most people stop there.

Hemingway and Martha: between their personal wars
Hemingway and Martha: between their personal wars

It goes on, however, But those that will not break, it kills. It kills the very good and the very gentle and the very brave impartially. If you are none of these, you can be sure it will kill you too, but there will be no special hurry.

Thus we go from something that sounds somewhat upbeat and promising to a rather grim conclusion. Still, above all Hemingway believed that men can’t be defeated even in death.

full quote of "the world breaks everyone"
full quote of “the world breaks everyone”

Finally, his mantra for writing was the following:

  1. Use short sentences.
  2. Use short first paragraphs.
  3. Use vigorous English.
  4. Avoid the use of adjectives.
  5. Eliminate every superfluous word.

And there you have it.img_0373



Visit To the Hemingway Collection in Boston Part 1



Kennedy Library, home of the Hemingway Collection, Boston
Kennedy Library, home of the Hemingway Collection, Boston

I was in Boston for a few days and took the opportunity to visit the Hemingway collection at the JFK Library and Museum. It’s about 20 minutes depending on traffic from downtown in a cab but shuttle buses travel out there more inexpensively as well. It is right on the water and very modern as you can see.

The present exhibit at the Hemingway Collection is entitled Hemingway Between the Wars, which covers much if not most of his career. The Old Man and the Sea, The Dangerous Summer, A Moveable Feast, among others came after World War II, (some posthumously. Hem died in 1961 and A Moveable Feast came out in 1964, edited primarily by Hemingway’s surviving wife, Mary. Garden of Eden  was also posthumously published.) but The Sun Also Rises, Men Without Women, A Farewell to Arms, The Snows of Kilimanjaro, For Whom the Bell Tolls, and many of the more famous short stories, i.e. The Short Happy Life of Francis Macomber, Green Hills of Africa, all were done between the wars.

Green hills of Africa
Green hills of Africa

Although Hemingway had his first great romance (with Agnes Von Kurowsky, his attending nurse after Hemingway was injured) during the war–not between the wars, the famous photo of her and Hemingway was in the exhibit. While I knew well that F. Scott Fitzgerald had done some serious editing on The Sun Also Rises and cut out the beginning and told Hemingway to start at a different place—and the rest is history—they had the actual letter Fitzgerald wrote to Hemingway expressing his disappointment at the beginning and making his suggestion to cut in strong terms. Uncharacteristically and probably because he was young and not yet confident, Hemingway did not resist and took Fitzgerald’s advice, much to the improvement of the book.

 1918 Nurse Agnes von Kurowsky and American Red Cross volunteer Ernest Hemingway, Milan, Italy. Photograph in the Ernest Hemingway Photograph Collection, John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum, Boston.
1918 Nurse Agnes von Kurowsky and American Red Cross volunteer Ernest Hemingway, Milan, Italy. Photograph in the Ernest Hemingway Photograph Collection, John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum, Boston.
Hem and Scott
Hem and Scott


There also was a list of titles that Hemingway considered for The Short Happy Life of Francis Macomber (1936). For those of you not familiar with this story, it is set in Africa and was published in September 1936 in Cosmopolitan Magazine concurrently with The Snows of Kilimanjaro. The story was eventually adapted to the screen as “The Macomber Affair” (1947).

The story deals with a dysfunctional marriage between Francis and Margot who are on a big game safari in Africa with a professional hunter Robert Wilson. On his first time out, Francis had panicked when a wounded lion charged him, which humiliated him in front of his wife who took far too much pleasure in mocking him about his act of cowardice. It is suggested that she sleeps with Robert Wilson. The next day the party hunt buffalo. Two are killed and one is wounded and retreats. It’s generally bad form, not to mention cruel all around, to leave a wounded animal as it is, and Francis and Wilson proceed to track him so that they can put him out of his misery. When they find the buffalo, it charges Francis Macomber. He stands his ground and fires, but his shots are too high. At the last second Macomber kills the buffalo with his last bullet and Margot fires a shot from her gun, which hits Macomber in the skull and kills him. Good times!


(Sorry, as a divorce lawyer I sometimes have a dark sense of humor on relationships.) Anyway, at the exhibit, there is a list of some of the alternate titles that Hemingway considered such as Marriage is a Dangerous Game, A Marriage has Terminated, The Cult of Violence, Marriage as a Bond.


HAPPY On the Sea

Fitzgerald's advice typed up so we can read it easily. Actual handwritten letter was in the display.















One True Sentence

Today, as we all ponder the insanity of politics–whatever your leanings–and going low or high, the below article about Hemingway’s simplicity with words struck a chord. I’ve excerpted it and will include the full cite at the end. Yes, we need ONE TRUE SENTENCE.

Commentary: The writer’s quest for that one true sentenc

By Robert Garnett

Years pass, sometimes decades, in which nothing of lasting interest is published.


Ernest Hemingway in Paris just after “The Sun Also Rises” hit the best-seller list.

Ninety years ago, in October 1926, two classics appeared in a single week.

First came Winnie-the-Pooh.

Then came a radically original first novel by a young Midwesterner living in Paris. Among American novels of the past century, Ernest Hemingway’s The Sun Also Rises remains uniquely influential.

There is no better time to appreciate Hemingway’s clipped, terse language than during the rhetorical bloat of an American election year, with Niagaras of twaddle and cliché tumbling into an oceanic puddle of verbiage.

“Zounds!” a Shakespeare character laments, “I was never so bethumped with words.”

It was Hemingway’s insight that English had grown genteel, formulaic, and glib; that mechanically chosen words and phrases, sliding easily onto the page, falsified experience and faked emotion. Shunning sentimentality and drama, genuine passion wastes no words.

“The deepest feeling always shows itself in silence,” his contemporary Marianne Moore observed: “Not in silence but restraint.”

The Sun Also Rises, like most Hemingway novels, is set in Europe.

An American journalist working in Paris, Jake the narrator loves an English femme fatale, Brett.

“Can’t we just live together?” he pleads.

“Not with my own true love,” she replies. For Jake has been emasculated by a war wound, they cannot consummate their love, and the highly sexed Brett has no aptitude for platonic friendship.

“And there’s not a damn thing we could do,” Jake says.

Their dilemma defies happy resolution.

What language to express a world without hope or illusion?

For five years Hemingway rose early, walked to a chilly rented room over a Parisian sawmill, and worked to find the answer. Slowly he developed his voice, reminding himself when discouraged that “all you have to do is write one true sentence.”

Ah yes. One True Sentence. Easier said than done.

Best to all, Christine



Hunter Stockton Thompson (18 July 193720 February 2005) was an American journalist and author famous for his flamboyant writing style, known as Gonzo Journalism, which blurred the distinctions between writer and subject, fiction and non-fiction. At the age of 67, suffering a bout of health problems, Thompson died at his home in Woody Creek, Colorado, of a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head.

A good cigar
A good cigar
Hunter Thompson
Younger Hunter Thompson

Who knew?  More than 50 years ago Hunter Thompson was visiting Hemingway’s Ketchum, Idaho home and pilfered a set of trophy elk antlers.  In mid-August 2016, his widow, Anita Thompson, gave the antlers back stating that Hunter had always been embarrassed that he had taken them.

“He wished he hadn’t,” she said.  “He was young, it was 1964, and he got caught up in the moment.  He talked about it several times, about taking a road trip and returning them.”

The Ketchum, Idaho community library has been a repository for things that Hemingway used and that were from his Ketchum, Idaho residence.  The antlers were returned to the Idaho community library and ultimately shipped to Hemingway’s grandson in New York City.  For years, the antlers hung in the garage of Hunter Thompson’s home outside Aspen, Colorado.

Hem writing a by-line from Idaho
Hem writing a by-line from Idaho

The taking of the antlers has been local lore for a number of years and apparently now the antlers have found a final home within the Hemingway family.

Trivia to be sure, but kind of funny/sad too.





6 Films Portraying Hemingway

Hemingway on film: 6 films that take him from a WWI hotshot almost to the bitter end

Hemingway on film: 6 films that take him from a WWI hotshot almost to the bitter end
Dominic West as Hemingway in “Genius.”

At the end of this post is a link to the article I just read that talks about how Hemingway has been portrayed in film over the last 20 years. He has been written about significantly more than F. Scott Fitzgerald—perhaps because his life was longer and with a few more highs to focus on—but often in film, only one side of Hemingway is emphasized and the total picture of the man doesn’t seem to emerge. He’s either portrayed as a bragging drunkard whose light shown brightest only in his early works or as a macho, thrill-seeking hunter/bullfighting aficionado/fisherman who covered wars and rarely let up on the macho image that blessed and cursed him.

In all of my reading, I have seen another side of him that is very much present. Next to the drunkard braggart, there is also the gentle and insecure man who just wants to be left alone to write. Next to the macho big game hunter is the man who considered his animals part of the family and whom he treated  with caring gratitude and love. When his spaniel Black Dog died, the depression that was already in progress deepened and he said he’d give up all of his fame and money for a case of good claret and “my Black Dog back when he was young and happy again.” And while capable of harshness to all of his wives at moments, he also gave generous support and kind appreciation for what they gave to him, including Martha whom he tended to vilify after the divorce. He readily acknowledged her writing skill and her courage. I don’t see too many of those nuanced aspects of Hemingway being portrayed on film.

In any event, this article talks about the following Hemingway based films:

  1. In Love And War:  Sandra Bullock plays the alter-ego of Agnes Van Kurowsky, Hemingway’s real life love when he was an ambulance driver in Italy. Chris O’Donnell was the Hemingway figure. It was not an intriguing movie.

    In Love and War
    In Love and War


  1. The Last Good Country: This is short film portraying Hemingway returning home after World War I, haunted by physical and psychological demons. The film is supposed to be inspired, in part, by Hemingway’s story Big Two-Hearted River. The part of Hemingway is played by Nic Collins and from the reviews, he apparently acquits himself well in portraying the complexity of Hemingway’s war and postwar life.

3. Midnight In Paris: This is Woody Allen’s love film to Paris, but it also shows our stereotypical Hemingway who is portrayed with great fun by Corey Stoll. When Hemingway, apropos of nothing, shouts in a bar, “Does anyone want to fight?” I admit to laughing out loud.

Midnight in Paris
idnight in Paris

4. Genius: This film just came out in June and focuses on Max Perkins, editor extraordinaire to Hemingway, Fitzgerald, and Thomas Wolfe. The focus of the movie is on Wolfe, but Hemingway is in it in a few vignettes in which Perkins goes fishing with Hemingway presumably in Key West since this is set in 1929.

  1. Hemingway & Gellhorn: The title is self-explanatory, but was something of a bore. Clive Owen played Hemingway; Nicole Kidman was Martha. Critics found it to be fairly dreadful.

    Hemingway and Gellhorn/ Clive Owen and Nicole Kidman
    Hemingway and Gellhorn/ Clive Owen and Nicole Kidman


  1. Papa Hemingway In Cuba: This is also a new movie based on the true story of Hemingway’s friendship with Ed Myers, a young journalist. Reviews were mixed about whether it was not good or whether, as some critics said, “Sparks is superb in the title role and he captures Hemingway’s warmth as well as his irascible nature.”

It’s a fun article and recaps movies in the last 20 years that Hemingway has been captured in.

Even a bad Hemingway film can be look-worthy.  Love, Christine

The Mystery of Hadley’s Loss of the Manuscripts: A New Novel: The Hemingway Thief

I guess I’m not the only one reimagining Hemingway history. As those of you who follow my blog know, I’ve written my third novel called Hemingway’s Daughter. As those of you who are Hemingway fans also know, Hemingway did not have a daughter. My second novel, a mystery called The Rage of Plum Blossoms, was just published by Kindle Press in ebook form and the paperback comes out in a few weeks. After publicizing it for a few months, I will re-dedicate to editing Hemingway’s Daughter and get that out.

TO be published soon too
TO be published soon too


Anyway, the above mentioned new book looks really interesting. Hemingway (well, really Hadley) famously lost a suitcase of almost all  of his manuscripts in early 1922. Hadley, his first wife, was to meet him in Switzerland, where he was working to get a story for The Toronto Star on the Lousanne Peace Conference. Thinking he might want to work on his own writing (and Lincoln Steffens had asked to see some of his work), Hadley put virtually 100% of his sketches and written stories of the moment into one valise. Hemingway was as yet unpublished and Hadley packed all she could find including carbon copies. While the train was still standing in the Gare de Lyon, Hadley went to buy a bottle of Evian water leaving the suitcase unattended. When she returned, it was gone. Only two stories remained: Up in Michigan, which was buried in the back of a drawer as Gertrude Stein said it was unpublishable (Ha! Shows what she knew!) and My Old Man as it was out with an editor.

Paris 1927
Paris 1927


While some Hemingway scholars have suggested that maybe this was a good thing as he had to start over with his improved leaner style and a bit more experience, obviously it was an incredible loss to scholars as well as to Hemingway. He was fairly devastated by it and tried not to blame Hadley. However, a bit of bitterness remained as to that topic  despite Hemingway’s forever love for Hadley.

Wedding to Hadley
Wedding to Hadley


In any event, a new novel by Shaun Harris called The Hemingway Thief tries to find out what happened to those unpublished sketches. It is Mr. Harris’ first novel and features Henry “Coop” Cooper, a struggling novelist kicking back in Mexico. He becomes embroiled in a deadly race for Hemingway’s stolen works.”

Lost valise
Lost valise


The works have never been found. If they turn up in an attic…well, very valuable indeed.


The book could be a lot of fun. Check it out! I know I will when I get a chance.

Another review and description. Sounds like a rollicking mystery and real fun.



Hem and Hadley
Hem and Hadley



Faulkner and Hemingway: Sharing the Stage at the Faulkner Studies Center

 Hemingway famously huffed: “Poor Faulkner. Does he really think big emotions come from big words? He thinks I don’t know the ten-dollar words. I know them all right. But there are older and simpler and better words, and those are the ones I use.” Image result for william faulkner

Faulkner also apparently commented that Hemingway seemed to think he had to marry every woman he fell in love with.

Every other year the Center for Faulkner Studies at Southeast Missouri State University holds a conference that draws speakers from around the world.  The conference is of course focused on themes related to William Faulkner, but a second writer is included whose themes and style could be compared and contrasted to Faulkner’s own. 

He wrote to Ingrid Bergman too
With Ingrid Bergman

This year, the Center went with Ernest Hemingway.  Quoting the director of the Center, Dr. Christopher Rieger, “they’re probably the two greatest American novelists of all time, frankly – certainly of the 20th century.”   

Writing and not standing
Writing and not standing

In order to select the invitees to the conference as speakers, the Center made proposals for twenty minute papers on any topic related to William Faulkner and/or Ernest Hemingway.  While many of the presentations are academic and talk about critical analysis of the works of the two authors, the Center also has encouraged events aimed at more general audience for those of us who simply enjoy the study of either Hemingway or Faulkner or both of them.   

The conference is to be held October 20 – 22.  It sounds very fun.