A Personal Note on Writing


There is nothing to writing.  All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed.

Hemingway wrote that.  I know this because I read almost every word he published.  Most of them twice.  I sipped each sentence.  Drained the bottle.  Held it upraised for that one last drop clinging to the rim, suspended in time until gravity provided sweet release.

Papa’s sentences were sparse.  No wasted words.  Pure prose poetry.

No coincidence that the template I picked for this blog is named “Hemingway.”  No bells and whistles.  Black ink on virtual white paper, hence the title.

Sometimes nice people ask me when I will write something here again.  Flattering words.  All kinds of things vie for attention these days, and I am sincerely honored that someone would make time to read a few paragraphs of my construction.

One reason for long dry spells is quite simple.  Writing is hard work for me.  A curious mix of God-given talent and practice.  It must be daily.  Most of the effort ends in a garbage can.  Gluteus maximus planted firmly in chair, cursor blinking on white emptiness.  Thoughts transferred from brain to keystroke on a beat-up old laptop computer with the “caps lock” key missing.

Sometimes the words come easy, but more often must be mined from solid granite with pick and shovel.  Mostly gravel in the pile.  Occasionally a nugget worth polishing and keeping.

“All you have to do is write one true sentence. Write the truest sentence that you know.”

Hemingway also wrote that gem.  How to begin anew.

In this quiet moment I choose to take his advice.  Perhaps the simplicity of it will cling  like flesh on dry bones.

“I just wrote something.”


18 thoughts on “A Personal Note on Writing

  1. You did just write something, Keep it up.

    What I like about Hemingway’s writing is that he does not ramble on and on, as you mention. I’m not much of a fan of endless adjectives and flourishes.

  2. Inspiration comes from many places, last night a writer friend of mine took me to Portland to attend an interview with Ann Beattie, accomplished short story writer and novelist. She said that 50% of what she writes ends up in the trash!

    We are all looking for that secret, that key to success. Ultimately, it boils down to putting fingers to keyboard, pencil to paper (as my friend Carolyn Chute does) or pen to pad. There is no escaping that one moment when the word plops onto the paper and breathes, taking on a life of its own. Ray, your talent appears every time you share! Thank you for another thought provoking, well written expression of the world around you!

  3. Ray, you’re such a great down-to-earth country story-teller. (I’ve actually told people about the piece your wrote about almost stepping on a rattlesnake in the woods and then a few minutes later your phone vibrated and scared you half to death) I’d like to hear about someplace your parents told you not to go to when you were a little kid and you went anyway. Did you go to the prom – were you nervous? Did you buy a corsage for your date? How about a time your car broke down in the middle of nowhere. Who was your favorite teacher? why? What’s your favorite memory of your grandma or granddad? Go for it – your readers will love it. Just sayin’ …

  4. Well Ms. Bateau, you’ve certainly provided a lot of subject matter for consideration. Perhaps I should hire you as my “creative consultant.”

    Thanks for the kind words. I’ll get to work.

  5. Ray,
    I was concerned I was taken off of your mailing list for reasons unknown. So glad you are back. I’m at your mercy to read when you write, for us all. That’s what makes seeing your words on paper…. special.

  6. Thank you for this as I thought where is this coming from at first and then I realized and remembered the first writing, Your thoughts and words are to be read with deep meaning.

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