/ Writing

There’s nothing to writing: just type until you bleed

The title of this post is my twist on a famous quote by Ernest Hemingway, here’s why it’s true.

An idea unfurled itself in my mind, like a giant sail on a boat navigating choppy seas.

At first, I disregarded it. I cast it away as a stupid idea and what would I do with it anyway?

A few days later, it was back - bigger and more complete than before. I thought: “Okay, I’ll just make a note of it...”

So I did. I wrote a note that outlined the gist of the idea and left it at that.

A few more days after that, the idea was now persistent. I still didn’t know what to do with it, so I just did what seemed like the best thing: I wrote it down.

It was a Friday evening. The house was quiet and there were no other distractions. I fired up my laptop feeling uneasy. I knew what I was about to do.

I mooched around trying to decide which writing software to use for a while. Which was an excuse not to start writing. But then I wrote the first few tentative words.

I read back what I’d written. It didn’t seem too bad, so I carried on. I was now fully aware of what I was doing: I was writing a short story.

The story was unfolding in a smooth flow of words. It was like I knew where the story was going, even though I didn’t.

Some hours later, I finished. I saved the file and closed it, deciding to wait a while before I read it back. There was no rush. It was a steaming pile of crap - most likely. But at least I’d scratched the itch.

Over the next few days I wrote a case study, a couple of blog posts and some documentation for work. I didn’t touch the short story. There was no need, it was shite.

The weekend arrived and I was reviewing my writing efforts for the week. I opened the file containing my short story. Just for a laugh, before I deleted it.

I read through the story (correcting a few typos) and when I’d finished I didn’t delete it. I thought it was rather good. I read it again to make sure, yep, as short stories go, this one was not bad at all.

I wrote another one not long after that. It turned out quite well, too. Or so I thought. I didn’t do anything with them. I kept them and decided I might write a collection. Nobody read them because I didn’t show anyone.

It’s fine for me to think my stories were a decent effort at writing fiction. But let someone else read them? No chance. I’m dumb, you see. I think I can write fiction. The truth is: I can’t. I’m rubbish at it and should stop wasting my time writing short stories. Oh, and I should definitely delete that novel manuscript I’ve started...

Well, like an idiot, I couldn’t do it. And worse, I’ve now published my nonsense here, on my own website. So, I suppose all I can do is ask that you have a read and see what you think. I hope you enjoy the stories - they are mercifully short, so you won’t lose too much of your life reading them.

There’s nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed
Ernest Hemingway

That’s the actual quote from an author whose work I admire.

I can confirm that he was right. I have wrestled with my writing demons to write these words you are reading now. Just as I’ve wrestled and fought to get the words out for my short stories.

We may not use typewriters anymore. But we writers (oh, listen to him, calling himself a writer) still sit and bleed.