‘Write and write truly’

This morning, I managed to have another read though the Letters to Note anthology and Letter No. 079 is pretty good, especially for budding writers. In fact, even a published writer would likely find truth within the words and make use of the advice.

This particular letter, written in 1934, is a correspondence between Ernest Hemingway and F. Scott Fitzgerald. Hemingway writes the letter in response to a request from Fitzgerald asking for his opinion on his new novel. This is after he’d written The Great Gatsby and was in fact Fitzgerald’s final novel.

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Letter No. 079 – Hemingway

The intro to the letter, from Shaun Usher, includes the below:

Hemingway certainly didn’t hold back and replied with a brutally honest letter that contains valuable advice for writers the world over.’ 

I won’t type out the whole letter as you may have the pleasure of coming across the anthology one day, or in fact already have it. But, as a writer who frequently believes their work isn’t great (and I know I’m probably not alone in that thought) this letter was comforting to read. Hemingway tells it how it is, and encourages you to not overthink what other people will say about your work.

Few highlights of the letter below:

That is what we are supposed to do when we are at our best-make it all up-but make it up so truly that later it will happen that way.’

Scott for gods sake write and write truly no matter who or what it hurts but do not make silly compromises.’

‘That what dries a writer up, not listening. That is where it all comes from. Seeing, listening. You see well enough. But you stop listening.’ 

I paid more attention to this one because we sometimes get so involved with our work that we may miss something brilliant, simply by not listening. Appropriate advice for life in general too; being, seeing, listening.

My personal favourite and easily identifiable as Hemingway-esque advice:

‘For Christ’s sake write and don’t worry about what the boys will say nor whether it will be a masterpiece nor what. I write one page of masterpiece to ninety one pages of shit. I try to put the shit in the wastebasket.’

Savour that one word, one sentence or one page of sheer brilliance and thrive on it.

Forget your personal tragedy. We are all bitched from the start and you especially have to hurt like hell before you can write seriously. But when you get the damned hurt use it – don’t cheat with it. Be as faithful to it as a scientist – but don’t think anything is of any importance because it happens to you or anyone belonging to you.’

We get too hung up on what others may think that I forget how good it actually feels at the end of a writing stint to realise what I’ve done isn’t half bad and remember it’s an achievement to get any words down at all. An excellent letter that I will come back to again and again when those moments of self-doubt appear and stunt creativity.

Read the letter in full if you can and hopefully it will ignite something within that you thought was lost.

All you need to do is write truly and not care about what the fate of it is.’

Go on and write.’ 

N.

 

Friendship in Fiction

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One of the main threads in my current novel is the friendship between Joseph Ventre (protagonist) and the young Bella Moretta. As much as I enjoy the research and the historical elements when writing this book, developing Joseph and Bella’s friendship has been and will continue to be my most favourite part!

I remember, as a child, reading books such as The Secret Garden, Anne of Green Gables, and the friendships within those stories made me want to jump right into the pages and be with Mary, Dicken, and Colin as they discovered the garden, or ramble through the fields of Avonlea with Anne Shirley and Diane. Similar to these examples of famous literary friendships, Joseph and Bella are two very different personalities; Joseph being timid and sensible, whereas Bella has a feisty, mischievous streak to her character. As the author, this is the fun part for me, balancing the two and ensuring that the reader will feel their relationship develop in, hopefully, a beautiful way, particularly as they navigate the war-torn streets of Liverpool together.

The ultimate goal for me is to keep their internal threads connected so the reader wills them both on, to succeed, to win. I want people to root for these two young characters and although it’s fictional, maybe real-life friendships could be strengthened along the way too.

N.

Hawk-eye on the Prize

It’s been Wimbledon overload the past week or so on my social media and I was lucky enough to be on Centre Court last Friday (in the stands that is… only in my dreams do I don fresh whites and play a 5-setter!)

I went along with my Dad who got me interested in the game a few years ago, although he’s been playing for many, many years. However, there was a period of time when he didn’t play at all. Life happened. But about six years ago he joined our local club and rekindled his love for the game.

Whilst enjoying our strawberries and cream in the sunshine of SW19, I thought about how we go through life awakening different skills and passions within us, perhaps allowing said things to dwindle. But, when the time comes, there’s something so joyful about reigniting the flame and remembering how good it makes you feel. Whether it’s a physical skill, like Dad and his tennis, or drawing, painting, or picking up that jigsaw that’s collected dust, you feel better for it don’t you?! I feel great every time I finish another draft of my novel, pen a new poem, or take a photo worthy of a place on the mantel piece.

I felt this feeling from the professional players  we watched at Wimbers. One player is in a ‘comeback’ phase of his career, so even though he trains with the best of the best, it was  clear to see that feeling of joy ooze from him, he fanned the growing flame, the excitement of winning one more point…

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SW19

A simple thought really, but one for me to hold on to – dive back in your passion and keep your eye on the prize.

N.

A Gentle Reminder…

Last weekend we packed a small travel bag and escaped to North Wales for a beautiful weekend, surrounded by the most picturesque landscape and great friends. It was, quite simply, just what the doctor ordered! A reminder to myself that nature and being outdoors is so bloody good for you, as is taking time out of your normal routine and listening to your mind and body.

Here’s a few photographs of our daily views:

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The Golden Hour
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Built to impress
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Pink, blue, and green
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The beauty of Portmerion

 

At one particular moment when wandering along the beach in the soft evening sun, I was reminded of The Peace of Wild Things  by Wendell Berry. I’ve read this many a time but this seemed to be the right moment for me to dig it from the back of my mind.

When despair grows in me
and I wake in the night at the least sound
in fear of what my life and my children’s lives may be,
I go and lie down where the wood drake
rests in his beauty on the water, and the great heron feeds.
I come into the peace of wild things
who do not tax their lives with forethought
of grief. I come into the presence of still water.
And I feel above me the day-blind stars
waiting for their light. For a time
I rest in the grace of the world, and am free.

 

Lovely…

N.

Light on dark

We’ve been blessed with some beautiful skies these past couple of weeks. Feel like there’s a story hiding in that little window to the left…

Happy Monday!

N.

Letters of Note

After seeing this book on numerous coffee tables, I finally have it in my possession thanks to a thoughtful birthday present from a thoughtful family member.

. Letters of Note by Shaun Usher

I’m three pages in and have already re-read one particular letter a few times. From 1973, the author E. B. White responds to a gentleman after receiving a letter about the ‘bleakness of the human race’.

His words are comforting even today, in the sometimes frantic world we live in. I will be sure to keep this collection close to me and peruse in those moments of doubt.

Here’s to those people who feel themselves struggling for whatever reason, perhaps troubled… ‘hang on to your hope. And wind the clock, for tomorrow is another day.’

Dear Mr. Nadeau,

As long as there is one upright man, as long as there is one compassionate woman, the contagion may spread and the scene is not desolate. Hope is the thing that is left to us, in a bad time. I shall get up Sunday morning and wind the clock, as a contribution to order and steadfastness.

Sailors have an expression about the weather: they say, the weather is a great bluffer. I guess the same is true of our human society- things can look dark, then a break shows in the clouds, and all is changed, sometimes rather suddenly. It is quite obvious that the human race has made a queer mess of life on this planet. But as a people we probably harbour seeds of goodness that have lain for a long to waiting to sprout when the conditions are right. Man’s curiosity, his relentlessness, his inventiveness, his ingenuity have led him into deep trouble. We can only hope that these same traits will enable him to claw his way out.

Hang on to your hat. Hang on to your hope. And wind the clock, for tomorrow is another day.

Sincerely,

E.B.White

Thanks for the beautiful reminder Mr. White.

N.

Sunday Reading: A Fire & The Power

After winning the Bailey’s Women’s Prize for Fiction Award last year, The Power has been on my ‘to read’ list for a while now. Fellow readers were split in their opinion of the novel so I wanted to see for myself what it was all about.

It seemed quite apt that I started reading this around the time when the ‘Me Too’ movement ramped up a gear and dominated headlines. Most reviews call it speculative fiction, which seems correct considering the supernatural elements, but I was more interested in the world within the story where females have the absolute power over men and rule all aspects of society. Trying to imagine this was real life and ‘the way of things’ is a tricky thing to do given the history of all societies  and cultures across the globe. It just doesn’t seem fathomable.

The more I read the more I focussed on the act of abusing power and not being able to come back from that point. All the main characters abuse their power at some stage of the novel; sometimes their intentions appear to be for the greater good, but mostly because their circumstances dictate them and for personal gain.

Thinking of all these accounts from female celebrities that have come out as part of the Me Too/Times Up campaigns whereby males have supposedly abused their power, how would things change if females in our world had the physical power to stop negative behaviours, as is such in the novel’s storyline.

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The Power by Naomi Alderman

The Power definitively provides food for thought through the dystopian style. Deep down I know I’d be slightly worried if I had the power that the character’s possess. God knows where I’d start with it all…

I think I’ll stick with developing my internal power and do my own little bit to change the world. Who needs an ‘electrical skein’ anyway when the females in my world simply have brilliantly powerful minds!

N.