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write drunk; edit sober

One of Hemingway’s rules of writing is to write in the positive, rather than the negative – describe what happens, not what doesn’t. But then again, Hemingway put the business end of a shotgun in his mouth and pulled the trigger, so his judgement wasn’t always sound.

Nevertheless, the Old Man is one of my absolute literary heroes. And his posthumous novel, The Garden of Eden, is one of my favourite books of all time, despite its allegedly being subject to ‘minor interpolation’ by whoever compiled it from his notes and drafts.

Still, I love it. I love the narrative, I love the relationships. I don’t mind if it is imperfect. Plus, as a writer, there are some gems in there. Real Hemingway ‘how-to-write’ moments.

Here’s some advice on the business of writing simple, clear prose: “But do not start to think so damned simply. Know how complicated it is and then state it simply.”

Oh, I love Hemingway more every time I read him. He just gets better. In fact, stop reading this, go and read some Hemingway. And if you haven’t got any of his books, log onto any online bookstore and order some.

Any of them.

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