The Ernest Hemingway Proposal

Ernest Hemingway once said, “write hard and clear about what hurts.”

I saw this recently and it made me wonder…is that what I am missing from my writing?

As an aspiring author who has started countless stories throughout my life and only really finished one, I have pondered many a night about what I want my stories to evoke.  Do I want a happy ending?  Is it something readers can escape with?  All sorts of questions go through my mind, and I have to answer them if I want to proceed at all with my writing.

When I first set my fingers to the keys, looking to get a solid idea down “on paper,” I decided to write something I would want to read.  For me, my favorite kind of book is a descriptive work of fiction set in a beautifully idyllic place with a good amount of conflict and romance to keep things interesting.  If some tasteful science fiction or supernatural elements are thrown in, all the better.  What Hemingway proposes however completely conflicts with the formula of my favorite book and thus the formula I’ve chosen for my own.

I will admit, this hits me at a time of my fourth rejection.  Saddening and maddening at the same time.  But when I think about the books I’ve read that are raw and unforgiving, I can honestly say I didn’t enjoy them.  I would hate to put my heart and soul into a story that didn’t make the reader feel good.  I suppose my heart and soul wouldn’t even be able to make something like that up…I’m a hopeful romantic after all.

But still, I wonder.



  1. Mary Ellen · · Reply

    I certainly don’t want to read something that makes me depressed and sad, that’s what the news is for!!

    1. Yeeep, that’s very true!!

  2. Oh my gosh M.E. you are so right about the news….most of the time I can not watch it. Dana, I am glad that you wrote your book, the way you wanted it to be…like you would like to read….that is how it should be, please don’t be discouraged (I know easy for me to say)….I am sure any given writer has experienced many rejections….hang in there!!

    1. That’s what the agencies keep saying, “it only takes one yes” out of a bajillion no’s! I’m trying to stay confident.

  3. Casey · · Reply

    this is great reflection dana. write what makes you feel good. i know it will speak to someone when its truly from your heart.

    1. It’s been a journey writing the story, and now I’m going back through and rewriting it. Because, truth be told, this quote inspired me to push myself. Even though my family loved my book, I want it to speak for itself. Who knows, but it will be a good project for the next few weeks!

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