INTERVIEWER

Finally, a fundamental question: as a creative writer what do you think is the function of your art? Why a representation of fact, rather than fact itself?

HEMINGWAY

Why be puzzled by that? From things that have happened and from things as they exist and from all things that you know and all those you cannot know, you make something through your invention that is not a representation but a whole new thing truer than anything true and alive, and you make it alive, and if you make it well enough, you give it immortality. That is why you write and for no other reason that you know of. But what about all the reasons that no one knows?

Paris Review

INTERVIEWER

It has been said that a writer only deals with one or two ideas throughout his work. Would you say your work reflects one or two ideas?

HEMINGWAY

Who said that? It sounds much too simple. The man who said it possibly had only one or two ideas.

Paris Review
Failure and well-disguised cowardice are more human and more beloved.
Hemingway, Paris Review
Survival, with honor, that outmoded and all-important word, is as difficult as ever and as all-important to a writer.
Hemingway in Paris Review
A writer, if he is any good, does not describe. He invents or makes out of knowledge personal and impersonal and sometimes he seems to have unexplained knowledge which could come from forgotten racial or family experience.
Hemingway in Paris Review

… I was trying to learn in Chicago in around 1920 and was searching for the unnoticed things that made emotions, such as the way an outfielder tossed his glove without looking back to where it fell, the squeak of resin on canvas under a fighter’s flat-soled gym shoes, the gray color of Jack Blackburn’s skin when he had just come out of stir, and other things I noted as a painter sketches.

These were the things which moved you before you knew the story.

Hemingway in Paris Review

First I have tried to eliminate everything unnecessary to conveying experience to the reader so that after he or she has read something it will become a part of his or her experience and seem actually to have happened. This is very hard to do and I’ve worked at it very hard.

I’ve seen the marlin mate and know about that. So I leave that out. I’ve seen a school (or pod) of more than fifty sperm whales in that same stretch of water and once harpooned one nearly sixty feet in length and lost him. So I left that out. All the stories I know from the fishing village I leave out. But the knowledge is what makes the underwater part of the iceberg.

Hemingway in Paris Review

INTERVIEWER

Do the titles come to you while you’re in the process of doing the story?

HEMINGWAY

No. I make a list of titles after I’ve finished the story or the book—sometimes as many as a hundred. Then I start eliminating them, sometimes all of them.

Paris Review
If a writer stops observing he is finished.
Hemingway, Paris Review

INTERVIEWER

Then you enjoy reading over your own books—without feeling there are changes you would like to make?

HEMINGWAY

I read them sometimes to cheer me up when it is hard to write and then I remember that it was always difficult and how nearly impossible it was sometimes.

Paris Review
Let’s see. The Sun Also Rises I started in Valencia on my birthday, July 21. … Everybody my age had written a novel and I was still having a difficult time writing a paragraph. So I started the book on my birthday, wrote all through the feria, in bed in the morning, went on to Madrid and wrote there. … and we went to Hendaye. There was a small cheap hotel there on the big long lovely beach and I worked very well there and then went up to Paris and finished the first draft in the apartment over the sawmill at 113 rue Notre-Dame-des-Champs six weeks from the day I started it.
Hemingway in Paris Review
Sometimes you know the story. Sometimes you make it up as you go along and have no idea how it will come out. Everything changes as it moves. That is what makes the movement which makes the story. Sometimes the movement is so slow it does not seem to be moving. But there is always change and always movement.
Hemingway in Paris Review
I read some Shakespeare every year, Lear always.

Hemingway in Paris Review.

King Lear, complete play. http://shakespeare.mit.edu/lear/full.html

Mark Twain, Flaubert, Stendhal, Bach, Turgenev, Tolstoy, Dostoyevsky, Chekhov, Andrew Marvell, John Donne, Maupassant, the good Kipling, Thoreau, Captain Marryat, Shakespeare, Mozart, Quevedo, Dante, Virgil, Tintoretto, Hieronymus Bosch, Brueghel, Patinir, Goya, Giotto, Cézanne, Van Gogh, Gauguin, San Juan de la Cruz, Góngora
Hemingway on his literary forebears
The further you go in writing, the more alone you are.
Hemingway in Paris Review