Tag Archives: ernest hemingway

Quote of the Day

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In honour of Valentine’s Day, I present to you some literary gems about that mysterious, all-encompassing, ever-absorbing, selflessly selfish and painfully blissful notion we in English call  Image result for love sculpture.

 

“The most painful thing is losing yourself in the process of loving someone too much, and forgetting that you are special too.”
Ernest Hemingway, Men Without Women

“If all else perished, and he remained, I should still continue to be; and if all else remained, and he were annihilated, the universe would turn to a mighty stranger.”
Emily Brontë, Wuthering Heights   

“Have enough courage to trust love one more time and always one more time.”
Maya Angelou

“Love is an irresistible desire to be irresistibly desired.”
Robert Frost

And finally, from the master of the written word himself:

“Let there be spaces in your togetherness, And let the winds of the heavens dance between you. Love one another but make not a bond of love: Let it rather be a moving sea between the shores of your souls…For only the hand of Life can contain your hearts. And stand together, yet not too near together: For the pillars of the temple stand apart, And the oak tree and the cypress grow not in each other’s shadow.”
Kahlil Gibran, The Prophet

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Quit for the Day While You’re Still Ahead

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Author of Massive Life Success, and founder of @ProcrastZero, Darius Foroux wrote an interesting piece on when to call it a day when it comes to work called “The Most Important Working Habit Of Hemingway: Stop At The Height of Your Day.” (And not You’ve got to know when to hold ’em/Know when to fold ’em.)

Hem’s mantra applies to everybody who carries out any kind of work – from housecleaning and sending emails to artist projects and entrepreneurial initiatives.

For Mr. Foroux, the lesson to be learned from Ernie H is essentially the following:

“Always stop while you are going good and don’t think about it or worry about it until you start to write the next day. That way your subconscious will work on it all the time. But if you think about it consciously or worry about it you will kill it and your brain will be tired before you start.”

But Papa also had this to pass on when it came to something else we can all relate to: How to stop worrying or getting stressed out day to day. When he’s asked, “How can you learn not to worry?” Hemingway answers:

“By not thinking about it. As soon as you start to think about it stop. Think about something else. You have to learn that.”

There are some other choice nuggets in the piece, but I’ll let Messrs Hemingway and Foroux explain in more detail themselves.

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Must-Read WW I Novels

Ouch! According to a list compiled by dictionary.com on must-read fiction about World War I, I am a dullard and a fathead. Of the seven books included on the list, I’ve read but two of them. The books are as follows: The Return of the Soldier (Rebecca West), Three Soldiers (John Dos Passos), Johnny Got His Gun (Dalton Trumbo), A Farewell to Arms (Ernest Hemingway), Good-bye to All That (Robert Graves), Memoirs of an Infantry Officer (Siegfried Sassoon), and All Quiet on the Western Front (Erich Maria Remarque).

For those who enjoy non-fiction books on the subject more, I’d definitely recommend the all-time classic, The Guns of August (Barbara Tuchman), and Paris 1919 (Margaret MacMillan).

 

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Does Alcohol + Writing = Genius x Calamity ÷ The X Factor?

What do Ernest Hemingway, James Joyce, Hunter S. Thompson, Edgar Allan Poe, F. Scott Fitzgerald, William Faulkner, Jack Kerouac, Tennessee Williams, Raymond Chandler, and O. Henry all share in common?

They were all alcoholics at one time, many of them for life, some of whom actually died as a direct result of their affliction.

Frighteningly enough, the above list only represents some of the greatest names in English literature over the past 150 years. This raises another alarming question: Is a grossly unhealthy dependence on alcohol necessary to become a great and prolific writer? Should writers follow Hemingway’s advice when he once mused, “Write drunk; edit sober”? While a humorous, pithy, and catchy suggestion, was Papa onto something?

Fortunately, the answer is a resounding NO!

Just ask Stephen King, who since quitting drugs and drinking has produced arguably his best work; David Mitchell, who’s an insanely responsible person and health nut; Murakami Haruki, who quit smoking and left his heavy whiskey-drinking days behind long ago at his former Tokyo bar and now takes solace in jogging, not the bottle. I’m pretty sure Margaret Atwood and Michael Ondaatje are on the straight and narrow, too. Then there’s Isaac Asimov, Anne Rice, and Stephenie Meyer, each famous as a writer for different reasons, but all of whom are teetotalers (abstinent from alcohol).

Over the past few weeks, I’ve been binge-watching Intervention Canada, an intense documentary that spends a few days following drug and/or alcohol addicts (and by “addict” I mean so far gone in most cases that it’s actually difficult to watch sometimes) before facilitating an intervention and offering treatment at many of Canada’s top treatment facilities. (Sidebar here: is it just me or are all the best rehab centres in Canada located in British Columbia?)

While watching an episode of IC a few days ago, I was struck by the courage one young woman summoned up when coming to grips with her demons, so I decided to write it down:

“I do not know what it is to be brave. And I do not know what the word bravery means to other people. What I do know is that strength is brought about by confidence. What I do know is that hardship fosters understanding. I believe kindness and thoughtfulness are the keys to ensuring a successful life. As I move forward, and embark on a new life, a life free of alcohol, free of pain, a life free of poison, I take to heart what the word bravery might actually mean.”

Scientists and philosophers have long tried to determine what exactly leads to genius. I think the only thing people can agree upon is that there is most definitely a biological factor; some people are simply blessed with a formidable brain. But it’s not all nature, I think. There is most certainly a nurture component – hard work, dedication, and a passion for a particular field of knowledge. At the same time, I feel equally confident saying that crutches like OxyCoton, meth, heroin, crack, whiskey, gin, beer, etc. (ad infinitum) will get a person nowhere, especially an artist like a writer, who already spends enough time alone and possibly dredging up memories and emotions that could sink even the strongest person if not handled with extreme cerebral care.

So if you’re interested in getting started on that story you know you have in you, or perhaps you’re brash enough to want to become a professional writer (ha ha ha ha ha…that’s just dumb and dumbly), do so with a cup of Joe or a mug of herbal tea, preferably in the hours before the sun rises, and you (and your liver) will be grateful for the decision in the years to come.

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