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On Writing. One way to reach a story.

July 28, 2016

I wasn’t a Hemingway fan—having never read a single word of his until a few years ago—and wouldn’t call myself one now. For every captivating short story he has written, there’s another one that is a total loss. A waste of time. I wouldn’t want to emulate that.

But I the very first story of his I ever read, got my attention for some pretty indefinable elements of style. So indefinable that I can’t begin to express what they might have been, but the result was that I kept turning the page even though I didn’t know what was going on in the story or where it was taking place, or who the characters were other than a name or why I should even care about the characters, who had not even been given description.

All I really knew was, that despite my not knowing much of anything, I kept turning the page, and the next page and the next, filling in the blanks out of my own imagination because the author wasn’t going to do it for me.

That’s what I want my readers to do. Keep turning the page.

I didn’t necessarily want to copy Hemingway (as if anyone could) or try to analyze what he had done with that story.

I just wanted my readers to keep turning the page.

So, when I had in mind to re-write a story of mine, that I had done at least two full versions of and did not like either one enough to bother revising, I thought I’d try something. This was at my Maine writing retreat. I’d read a story out of my collected Hemingway, each night as I was falling asleep. Story picked at total random. Fell asleep before I’d got half way through those few pages.

And woke up, and wrote on my story, a page or so.

And did the same the next night and morning, and the next.

And by the end of the fourth morning, I had done what I had always wanted to do with that story. Told it.

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