Hemingway: Master of the Sound Bite

Ernest Hemingway hemingway[1]

Hemingway was a master of the sound bite before the sound bite existed – write drunk, edit sober. Genius is short and sweet – honed down to the pure essence of meaning.

Let’s expand Mr. Hemingway’s meaning beyond his well-documented love of drink. Writing drunk could mean writing completely soused with what one is engaged in, totally inebriated with the work, drunk on the possibilities. It could mean working within an altered state of being. It might mean writing with a blind eye to everyone and everything. It most certainly indicates a total investment of time and energy.

Edit sober – out of the flow of creativity we enter a disciplined arena where we train clear eyes on what we have written. Being sober speaks to the need for reflection and clarity. Editing is obviously not a process that lends itself to reckless abandon.

I believe the most important message to take from this interpretation of Hemingway’s wisdom is that writing and editing are two different processes, quite possibly exclusive of one another. Let yourself go when you create – rein yourself in when you edit. I wish you the best of luck with both processes.

I wonder what Mr. Hemingway would have had to say about marketing and promoting. At this point they strike me as pursuits that could lend themselves to true drunkenness – just joking – sort of.


(When I thought of altered states of reality, I was reminded of this photo of poppies that we took when we were touring the grounds of Stanford University in California.)

6 comments on “Hemingway: Master of the Sound Bite

  1. Gwen says:

    Creative post. Made me chuckle.

  2. I found your great blog through the WLC Blog Follows on the World Literary Cafe! Great to connect! http://www.libbybroadbent.com What a beautiful cover you have for your book! Very classy. I love the Hemingway quote, its one of my favorites! 🙂

    • Thanks for stopping in – I loved the pic for the book cover but then started to doubt how it would turn out in black and white or thumbnail – but it has all worked out just fine – yippee! Can’t stop the happy dance now that the book is actually out in the world.

  3. I love this! For me, writing and editing are two completely different actions that require different brain muscles. Unfortunately my editing muscle doesn’t like to exercise often. 🙂 I love the photo!

    • Those poppies are fabulous, aren’t they? I love the freedom of the creativity and feel hemmed in by the discipline of editing – but love the final results so much. Sometimes when I see a sentence finally get that last bit of polish and shine out like I knew it could (I admit this happens most often with the help of my fabulous editior) well – it just makes me shiver.

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