I have imagined him day-by-day at his trusty typewriter as he spun his tales and imparted his wisdom to all who would pick up his books. For Whom the Bell Tolls and the Old Man and the Sea, stamped indelible marks on my teenage mind and I’ve not been able to shake them since. Through the years I have fantasized about a long conversation over coffee and danishes in which I became one of Ernest’s most cherished friends.
Recently I’ve come to understand how very extraordinary that would have been, for as Lillian Ross shared in the May 13, 1950 edition of the The New Yorker magazine, Hemingway once told her “Time is the least thing we have of.” and I am skeptical that he would have wasted his time with me. Then again, perhaps he would have found it in him to inspire a fledgling writer with aspirations to become a great journalist one day. Though, if you delve deeply enough into the history of this great man, wanting to become like him and writing like him are two completely different things.
Ernest Hemingway’s writing took me to different places. His minimalist writing style kept me turning the page. No skimming over unnecessary floofy descriptions like far too many modern-day writers who agonize over word counts and forget it’s about the story and not the rules. His writing was raw and honest. Descriptions were crafted in such a way that it is akin to watching a movie in your mind’s eye.
Hemingway never gave up writing in spite of bad reviews or public opinion; he persevered. For example: he won the Pulitzer Prize for fiction writing in 1953 for The Old Man and the Sea; a novel he wrote in just 8 weeks, after having had scathingly bad reviews for the book, Across the River and into the Trees.
His success, unfortunately, didn’t stop him from falling into depression. Hemingway was notoriously known for his excessive drinking which led to a myriad of mental and physical ailments. And while some writers like to joke about their glass of bourbon and tobacco use as a must have, “just like Hemingway”– that is not something to which I aspire nor agree is necessary to becoming a Pulitzer Prize winner and/or a published author.
While there are two explanations for his death and Hemingway’s obituary states otherwise, it is commonly believed that Ernest Hemingway died by committing suicide on July 2, 1961; leaving behind the world he had dedicated his life to while depicting humanity’s journey.
Could it be that those of us who record human history through various mediums are in danger of becoming overwhelmed by the sorrows that are common to mankind? Perhaps Hemingway was a victim of his time, having been born in 1899 and survived two world wars. A time in history where hope was hard to find.
Yet here I am, not unlike Ernest Hemingway, determined to prevail daily– driven to record what I must. I take up my pen (actually it’s a keyboard) with conviction and I write; hoping to add to the throng–one more voice. Of which I can only pray will enrich the life that I love.
I wanted to be like Hemingway and in many ways I still do.