Hemingway

Hemingway, ese tema enorme, como un iceberg, como un polo,  un territorio y a la vez un magnetismo. Alguna vez tuve una manera de pensar en la literatura que era así: la literatura es todo el espacio y la tensión que pasa entre algo que se podría llamar Hemingway y algo que se podría llamar Faulkner. Ese algo puede ser una figura imaginaria o un territorio. Me lo digo más como una curiosidad que otra cosa, una foto de algún pasado, perdida por ahí, una época en la que muchas cosas eran diferentes.

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En una biblioteca que ya no existe, cuyos restos yacen en el ICANA de Capital, leí hace unos quince años un librito titulado Hemingway on Writing, una suerte de ayudamemoria de todos esos momentos en los que Hemingway rompía su regla, la capa de hielo, y la escritura sobre la escritura salía bien visible a la superficie.  El librito no es más que una colección de citas, sin explicaciones ni aclaraciones (salvo el silencio: categorías, criterio de selección), y junto con otro de Faulkner (Faulkner in the University, a su modo bien distinto también un libro de citas textuales) me persiguieron la imaginación durante tiempo. El de Faulkner lo conseguí hace unos pocos años, el de Hemingway aún no; aunque jamás estuvo fuera de circulación, es una figurita más difícil.

En la red, hay algunos fragmentos de este libro. Me gusta el modo qeu tienen algunos textos de dar vuelta deshechos. Y un libro de citas es ideal para este modo de distribución entre subrepticio y digestivo. Esto que sigue no es nada más que una recopilación para entretener un recuerdo personal. El esfuerzo se debe a (1) y a (2).

(1)

The Craft of Writing

“Writing is something that you can never do as well as it can be done. It is a perpetual challenge and it is more difficult than anything else that I have ever done.”

“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 think you should learn about writing from everybody who has ever written that has anything to teach you.”

“You see I’m trying in all my stories to get the feeling of the actual life across, not just to depict life, or criticize it, but to actually make it alive.”

Daily Routine

“Ordinarily I never read anything before I write in the morning to try and bite on the old nail with no help, no influence and no one giving you a wonderful example or sitting looking over your shoulder.”

“Charlie’s (Scribner’s) ridiculing of my daily word count was because he did not understand me or writing well nor could know how happy one felt to have put down properly 422 words as you wanted them to be. And days of 1200 or 2700 were something that made you happier than you could believe. Since I found that 400 to 600 well done was a pace I could hold much better was always happy with that number. But if I only had 320 I felt good.”

On Success

“Whatever success that I have had has been through writing what I know about.”

On Criticism

“I hold very simply, that a critic has a right to write anything he wishes about your work no matter how wrong he may be. I also hold that a critic has no right to write about your private life while you are alive.”

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(2)

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

#1 Start with the simplest things

#2 Boil it down

#3 Know what to leave out

#4 Write the tip of the ice-berg, leave the rest under the water

#5 Watch what happens today

#6 Write what you see

#7 Listen completely

#8 Write when there is something you know, and not before

#9 Look at words as if seeing them for the first time

#10 Use the most conventional punctuation you can

#11 Ditch the dictionary

#12 Distrust adjectives

#13 Learn to write a simple declarative sentence

#14 Tell a story in six words

#15 Write poetry into prose

#16 Read everything so you know what you need to beat

#17 Don’t try to beat Shakespeare

#18 Accept that writing is something you can never do as well as it can be done

#19 Go fishing in summer

#20 Don’t drink when you’re writing

#21 Finish what you start

#22 Don’t worry. You’ve written before and you will write again

#23 Forget posterity. Think only of writing truly

#24 Write as well as you can with no eye on the market

#25 Write clearly – and people will know if you are being true

#26 Just write the truest sentence that you know

#27 Remember that nobody really knows or understands the secret

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(1) = De acá.

(2) = De acá.

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