Hemingway and Trauma

ALL-TIME AMERICAN WRITERS TOURNAMENT

hem on crutches

Editor’s note: We’ll return to “live” coverage of the Tournament as soon as possible. Until then we’ll be making occasional posts regarding possible or likely participants in the tournament.
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INTERESTING to me is the way Ernest Hemingway so aggressively pushed himself to partake of experience, of the world and life– part of his process of self-creation as a writer.

Instinctively Hemingway knew that to be a great writer he had to put himself out there– beyond safety. As Jack London did before ever considering becoming a writer.

(NO writer worked harder at turning himself into a great writer, with all that goes into it, than Ernest Hemingway.)

Examine the most striking most emotional most vulnerable or compassionate artists– those more in tune with the universe than the run-of-the-mill rest of us– Van Gogh, Beethoven, Dickens, Dostoevsky, even Kurt Cobain– and you’ll see they experienced, at some point of their lives, extreme trauma and emotional pain.

Trauma is at the center of Hemingway’s best work, from the early short stories to his first two masterful novels, The Sun Also Rises and A Farewell to Arms.

Does this apply in any way to writers today? Is it an argument for putting oneself out there?

It’s not an argument for playing it safe. The standard route of schooling, certifications, workshops, seminars; of following the herd; has produced a great amount of competence, even talent. But no literary greatness.

It’s why we at New Pop Lit have looked for writers outside the established system, knowing they may have a deeper take on reality. Those who’ve had the toughest lives, faced the most hardship, bounced around the most– whose writing might appear offbeat or hyper-emotional or bizarre– might have a greater store of what some call talent or even have some of what others call genius.

EH 7018P*******

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