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.
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?