Friday, January 23, 2015

My Role Model: Ernest Hemingway

by Jean Henry Mead

Ernest Hemingway has always been my writing role model. Not only because his work changed the face of writing, but because he was a fellow novelist and journalist. My interest in him intensified when I learned that I was born on his birthday, July 21. A framed photograph of him sits on my office desk, and I was told by Elmore Leonard, during my interview with him, that a large photo of Hemingway hung in his office because he was also most influenced by his work.

The following are a few of Hemingway's quotes:

~There's no rule on how it is to write. Sometimes it comes easily and perfectly. Sometimes it is like drilling rock and then blasting it out with charges.

~[I'll] work again on the novel today. Writing is a hard business, but nothing makes you feel better. 

~I love to write. But it has never gotten any easier to do and you can't expect it to if you keep trying for something better than you can do.

~The good parts of a book may be only something a writer is lucky enough to overhear or it may be the wreck of his whole damn life--and one is as good as the other.

~A man's got to take a lot of punishment to write a really funny book.

~Whatever success I have had has been through writing what I know about.

When asked what the best early training is for a writer, Hemingway answered: "An unhappy childhood." Whether his answer was tongue in cheek is irrelevant. I'm sure he meant that emotions such as sadness, anger, rebellion and depression are remembered emotions which contribute to good writing. And writing that elicits reader emotion is the primary ingredient in a successful book.

(Quotes from Ernest Hemingway on Writing, edited by Larry W. Phillips, Scribner, 1984.)


Patricia Gligor said...

Great post, Jean!
I have a role model too! The Queen of Suspense, Mary Higgins Clark. I've always loved her novels but, when I read her autobiography and learned what it took for her to get where she is today, I appreciated her books even more. In 2002, I was privileged to meet her. A photo of the two of us together sits on my desk, a constant reminder of her encouraging words to me.

Jean Henry Mead said...

Thanks, Pat! I know what a thrill it must have been to meet Mary Higgins Clark and to be photographed with her. I learned to write mysteries by reading Sue Grafton, and was thrilled to interview her and receive a Christmas card from her every year since. As writers we rarely know who we influence, and perhaps even serve as role models.

Morgan Mandel said...

Must be kismet that you were born on the same day as Hemingway!

Marilyn Meredith a.k.a. F. M. Meredith said...

I met Mary Higgins Clark too, and have a photo with her taken many long years ago. Saw her again at the Edgars and dear soul said she remembered me--which I doubt.