Tag Archives: Novel

Thank you Mr Hemingway

Ernest Hemingway circa 1937

It has been the most productive day I have had in quite some time. I have been revising the first seven chapters of my novel and the feeling of being alive has returned.

It’s probably obvious to regular readers of this blog that my motivation for writing ebbs and flows and I go through periods of manic activity which then give way to periods of procrastination. If it was possible to pinpoint one thing that turned procrastination into action, those periods of not writing would probably not worry me so much. Unfortunately, there does not seem to be any connection between the things the seem to revive my writing motivation.

So, who or what was it that brought about a resurgence of motivation and activity this time? Believe it or not, it was reading Ernest Hemingway’s To Have and Have Not.

This might not be considered such a strange event, especially since Hemingway is considered one of the greatest writer’s of all time, but it’s not exactly what you might think. The reason Hemingway’s book motivated me is not because it was a fantastically well-written novel, in fact, it was the exact opposite.

This was my first Hemingway. I plunged into it expecting to be blown away by some mystical power of amazing literature – boy, was I disappointed. Part 1 was okay, nothing totally amazing, but it wouldn’t be the first book I have read that took great persistence to get really involved in the story.

The change of perspective in Part 2 was when I started to have doubts about the greatness of Mr Hemingway. Although, in truth it wasn’t just the change in perspective, lots of novels do that, it was also the disconnected and disjointed feeling that came through reading it.

When I started on Part 3, I wondered out loud if the book wasn’t really a collection of short stories.

Then, I was overcome with complete confusion as the whole thing seemed to take a major detour from the original idea. I was seriously starting to question why this guy was supposedly considered to be some kind of writing God. Hope and motivation for my novel were starting to return.

I finished the book, and straight away started to research Mr Hemingway. I discovered that To Have and Have Not came 8 years after his previous novel, although he had published some short stories in between. I also discovered that this novel started life as two short stories and a novella, so some of the change in perspective and disjointedness started to make sense. But then, according to some contemporary reviewers from the late 1930s, disconnection seems to be a common theme through all Hemingway’s work (that and the lack of distinction between characters in his dialogue).

To Have and Have Not has been referred to as a ‘bunch of junk’ although there seems to be some confusion as to whether this comment should be attributed to Hemingway, himself, or to film director, Howard Hawks, who made the novel into a film of the same name. However, once you start looking into the novel a little deeper than words on a page, and start to question Hemingway’s motives for writing it or what he was trying to explore, then you can start to see that, as a piece of literature, and as an author, Ernest Hemingway was bordering on brilliant.

Regardless of whether this is Hemingway’s worst book or indicative of his work in general, if a great writer can produce a novel like this, there is hope for me yet. That is not to say that I, in any way, shape or form, consider myself in Hemingway’s league (heck, I haven’t even finished writing 1 novel yet, let alone published 7 of them!), but if readers of my novel are not left scratching their heads or having to resort to Google to work put the story together then I will consider myself successful.

Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays

Christmas used to be my favourite time of year. As a child Christmas meant spending time with my Grandparents, and then the whole family would gather together and celebrate their ‘togetherness’ before heading back out into the world for another 12 months.

After my Grandfather passed away the family stopped getting together and communication between all the different members disintegrated and has now all but disappeared.

In spite of this, (or perhaps because of it?), I have always worked hard to make sure Christmas is a special time for my own family, i.e my daughter and my partner. Over the years it has become a time of relaxation and reconnection with each other – in much the same way it used to be for the extended family when I was a child.

But this year it’s different. It doesn’t feel like Christmas.

I am sure we will enjoy our time together, as we normally do, but this year I haven’t had the time or the finances to really get into the spirit of things and prepare all the little things that make Christmas Day special for us.

So, while I am busy trying to get things done at the last-minute, I would like to wish all of you a very Merry Christmas, and send best wishes for the year ahead.

2012 will hopefully see the long-awaited completion of the first draft of my novel, more regular posts and short stories on this blog, and, with fingers strongly crossed, I hope to get a journal-style blog up and running in the next few weeks so I can share some thoughts on general topics, while keeping this blog dedicated to my fiction writing.

Procrastination sets in

Procrastination sets in

As most writers know, NaNoWriMo is upon us, and at the beginning of the year I had planned to participate this year. However, ‘life’ got in the way and I also found myself a good way into writing a novel by the time November rolled around. So, instead of putting my work-in-progress on hold and write an entirely new novel during NaNoWriMo, I had set myself a challenge to have the first draft of the original novel completed by November 30.

All was going well until I turned 40.

In the few weeks leading up to the big four-oh, all of my spare time was focused on party preparations, (because you only turn 40 once, I was happy for it to be a ‘big deal’).  Anyway, my writing stopped during this time and now, after the partying has come to an end, I turned my attentions back to my manuscript.

But nothing happened.

I sat at the computer, checked my emails, read the news, listened to music, played a game – everything other than write. Then today, when I was having a coffee trying to psyche myself up to write, I thought I should do some sewing, clean the house, go shopping etc.

Fortunately, or unfortunately depending on your point of view, I have been in this position before, so I know what is happening – I’m procrastinating!

Tsk! Tsk!

Oh, well, at least I have managed to sit here for the last few minutes and write a blog post. Now, if only I can transfer this concentration and get back to my novel…

6,000 words!

6,000 words - done!

Woo Hoo! Who said it couldn’t be done? Well, I for one definitely had my doubts.

No, I haven’t completely lost my mind, (although I am working on it), but I did achieve something amazing today.

I haven’t written much on my novel for the last couple of weeks, thanks to ‘life’ getting in the way, so this afternoon I set my goals high and set about trying to achieve them.

My goal was to write 6,000 words today.

Considering I didn’t sit down to start writing until 1.30 this afternoon, I was expecting my goal would be quite out of reach, but there is nothing like a challenge to give my motivation a bit of a kick-start.

With no incentive, other than to reach the magic 20% mark of my first-draft by writing 6,000 words today, I sat down and let my fingers do the talking, (so to speak).

Anyway, almost 10 hours later, I have just completed 6,112 words!

I am exhausted, I have to go to work early in the morning, and my only sustenance today has been coffee, but I am so excited that I have managed to get so much written. This bodes well for the rest of the week, because, having been so engrossed in the story for so many hours in one sitting, I am keen to keep the momentum going.

It feels so great to have pushed myself beyond the goals I would normally set for myself, I just had to share.

Fell free to let me know of any writing goals, big or small, you’ve achieved recently so we can celebrate together!

Alive and writing

Alive and writing!

It has been months since I have posted anything here.  My loss of creativity, written about in my last post, seemed absolute.  Try as I might, no words would come as I sat down to write, and then after a while I just stopped trying.

All that has changed over the last few weeks.

Even though I have two novels and one non-fiction piece that I had been working on previously, inspiration struck like a lightning bolt out of the blue, and I have been regularly working on a new novel ever since.

The writing of it is quite different to my usual method, so I am not sure if this has helped keep the creativity alive, or if the act of writing daily has something to do with it.

When the inspiration came, I was afraid it would leave as quickly as it had arrived, so I wanted to limit as much self-imposed pressure and expectation as I could.  As I sat down to write on that first day after having felt deserted by creativity for so long, I decided to write just 1000 words.

At the time I wasn’t sure if the writing would be a short story or something more, so I thought 1000 words was achievable either way, and by then I would have a better idea.

I also decided not to think about the creative spark too much.  Instead I just sat and tapped away on the keyboard.  Whatever comes, comes, I thought, and decided not to try and direct the story in any particular direction, but instead let the story go wherever it pleased.

The result, so far, has been fantastic – not in the sense of what has been written – but in the sense of freedom I have felt as I have been writing.  No pressure,no limits, no trying to make the story fit into any particular mould.  If it doesn’t make sense at this stage, that’s okay – after all isn’t that what editing is for, to make the story make sense?

So, I am still alive, and I am busy writing.  Hopefully my next post will not be so long away as this one was from the last 🙂

No words today

I can't think!

I woke up this morning with a brain-exploding migraine.  Not the best way to start the day, and not being able to function was something of an anti-climax after a reasonably productive weekend as far as writing was concerned.

After a spending most of Saturday and Sunday tidying up loose ends on some half-finished drafts, and working on my latest study assignment, I went to bed last night with the intention of being more disciplined this week, and writing at least 500 words a day for my novel, in addition to blog posts, short stories and continuing to help my friend edit her book.  (Oh, and fit in a full-time job there somewhere!).  But spending the day in bed, doped to the eye-balls and clinging to the ice-pack on my forehead as if it was a life-preserver has thrown my intentions out the window.

So, no 500 words today (well, not yet anyway, and since it is almost midnight I can’t really see it happening).  However, there is always tomorrow….