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on personal tragedy: hemingway’s advice to fitzgerald

04/29/12 , , , , , ,

i just watched midnight in paris a few days ago so it was cool to come across this letter that ernest hemingway wrote to f. scott fitzgerald. the letter offered great advice and insight into the authors’ lives, but it was this quote that resonated with me the most:

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.

when i started writing poetry, i knew that people would see my poems as the most wonderfullest in the world because they’re real, they’re how i feel, yadda, yadda, yadda. there’s a narcissistic misconception behind some of that delusion though. assuming that people will feel something solely because of what it means to you can make you a lazy writer which in turn, undercuts your ability to truly connect with your audience.

as hemingway pointed out, it’s great to tap into your feelings and experiences because history has proved them to be deep reservoirs of greatness. however in doing so, make sure that you really do them and yourself justice.


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