Wednesday, January 09, 2013

We Can't All Be Hemingway ~ And Here's Why You Shouldn't Try

Ernest Hemingway.  Perhaps one of the more infamous authors of our time.  Known for drinking too much, marrying too often, traveling extensively, and living the good life in his Key West, Wyoming, and Cuban homes.  It almost sounds idyllic (well, perhaps not the serial marriage part) until you consider that Hemingway took his own life.  Before that, he was infamous for treating people badly.  He suffered crippling pain as a result of multiple accidents.  And he was treated with electro-convulsive therapy for his paranoid depression.
As I consider Hemingway's life, it occurs to me how much times have changed.  Today's author need not drown in whiskey or travel the world to tell a great story.  They need not be listless or on the verge of suicide to go down in history.  The whole notion of the tortured artist has almost become a bygone of another era.

Which is not to say that tortured souls are not some of the better story tellers out there.  All you have to do is a read a few stories on the Dear Team Me blog to know that a great number of authors have suffered traumatic or heart breaking experiences.  They draw on these experiences, heal themselves through their characters and often help their readers.

But most authors today are ordinary folks.  They are the moms you see in grocery lines, herding kids and trying not to dump their purses.  They are the business men who sneak into their offices at night to pen a thriller they can't get out of their heads.  Today's authors don't necessarily make a career of their writing, and they certainly don't use the label of "author" as an excuse to live life with no regard for who they harm along the way.  Today's authors are good people, who help one another, and who have been forced to climb outside of their shells by the world of technology.

So even though I am sort of sad to think that the days of Hemingway-style novelists are long-since passed (after all, who doesn't fantasize at least about the extensive traveling and multiple homes part?), it's probably for the best.  I couldn't appreciate today's community of authors more.  And when it occurs to me that we can't all be Hemingway, I realize that's a good thing.  I'm not sure I'd wish his life - or misery - on anyone.

And so I wonder ... if you could trade places with Hemingway, would you?  Would being such an esteemed novelist (not to mention well-to-do partier) be worth the anguish?  Or are you glad that writing today is looked at more as catharsis and creates a community of healing?


  1. I absolutely hate Hemingway, so there's no way I'd want to trade places with that misogynistic, overrated writer. I've liked some of his short stories, but have a hard time gagging down that beyond-Spartan prose when it's stretched out over several hundred pages.

  2. NO Way.... I had a bout of anxiety and a few panic attacks several years ago when under extreme stress, AND I WOULD NEVER WANT that on a daily basis. Hemingway came from a family of mentally dysfunctional people. His father committed suicide, he did, and his grand-daughter, Margeaux did... "Hearing voices" is NO WAY to live. There isn't enough money in the world for me to go through life that way.

  3. When the new book comes out and is read,Hemingways last manuscript, that was just recently found, you C-A & M D G, will both hang your heads in Shame !along with ms harrells thinking h hemingway


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