Tuesday, August 04, 2009

Ernest Hemingway

Every man's life ends the same way. It is only the details of how he lived and how he died that distinguish one man from another.
You, eager reader, must have read quite a lot of material on how to improve your creative writing skills. While I was attending a writing workshop recently, I had this brainwave. I actually hit upon a brilliant place to generate creative blog ideas.

The professor was discussing Ernest Hemingway’s writing habits. Hemingway chose a quiet room in his house that was neatly cluttered with his typewriter, foolscap sheets for pre-writing stages, an oversize slipper wearing which he stood and wrote and his wastebasket that contained shreds of initial drafts that he improved upon.

On the third day of the workshop, the writing exercise was on visualizing and describing the scene. For me, who is just a hack writer, the writing exercises were a disappointment. At that moment, I could not write anything more than a drab piece of prose that just rephrased what was originally in the article that the professor read out to us.

First, I asked the professor, “May I stand and write?” He said “If that helps”. Then I produced some poor quality writing whose only good point was that I described a person’s bland face coming alive when he smiled. The professor applauded that and wisely ignored the rest, while I sat expecting a word by word analysis of my writing. Well, nothing happened.

In the next twenty minutes, everybody read out their versions of the writing exercise. One was exceptionally well-written and I really saw how good it was, with good illustrations and cleverly planned. Then the clown in my mind started dancing and making faces. He showed me an image of The Carpenters in concert half-clad and inspired.

So to cover my embarrassment of being a writer and not being able to produce a good piece of writing, I started narrating the example of the carpenters and that I needed a good shower to start working on any writing job I have. Bogus or not, I went home and enjoyed some special time in my sacred space and came up with this piece on Ernest Hemingway.

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