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Spew at First Light

July 18, 2012

Questions from two people within twenty-four hours had me looking up the exquisite interview George Plimpton did with Hemingway for the Paris Review on The Art of Fiction.

I find myself feeling more for Plimpton in this testy interview at Hemingway’s Finca Vigia in Cuba. Hemingway made no secret he was bored of the young writer’s questions. Poor Plimpton had to endure the wrath of the old master.

Thank God he did. For posterity’s sake. This interview unearths some of Hemingway’s tips for young writers, tips he didn’t give out too freely.

There are, of course, lots of great Hem gems in here. This is just one of them, but it sounds oh so very Hemingway.

When I am working on a book or a story I write every morning as soon after first light as possible. There is no one to disturb you and it is cool or cold and you come to your work and warm as you write. You read what you have written and, as you always stop when you know what is going to happen next, you go on from there. You write until you come to a place where you still have your juice and know what will happen next and you stop and try to live through until the next day when you hit it again. You have started at six in the morning, say, and may go on until noon or be through before that. When you stop you are as empty, and at the same time never empty but filling, as when you have made love to someone you love. Nothing can hurt you, nothing can happen, nothing means anything until the next day when you do it again. It is the wait until the next day that is hard to get through.