Hugo & Hemingway (not a law firm)

Two Quotes I used in class today [8-28-18]:

“The only kind of writing is rewriting.”-  Ernest Hemingway

This has got to be my all-time favorite writing quote, especially since most writers don’t want to hear about it, as I mentioned in my previous quote of today.  To write something and move on, without ever going back to edit, rewrite, revise, is not true writing.  It’s journal-keeping, or stories/poetry on the run.

Now are there those few gifted ones who can write something and have it be perfect with not an edit needed? Sure, just as there are 4 year olds who can knock out Mozart on the piano. But for the rest of us, listen to Hemingway. While I don’t say he’s the greatest writer who ever lived, it doesn’t matter.  The truth stated in this particular line holds solid and has been, and continues to be, proved over and over again.

“Adversity makes men, and prosperity makes monsters.”  — Victor Hugo

Again I’m not in love with Hugo, but he also got it right with this one.  For a simplified proof, just look at children who are spoiled and those who aren’t, and note the difference in their upbringings—for the most part, again I know there are always exceptions.

How does this quote apply to writing? you ask.

Well, if you write something and the writing instructor edits it for you or points out changes that should be made, and you ignore them and, instead, move on to another piece, and continue to do that, (“prosperity”, i.e., ease, no struggles) you’ll always have a very rough draft of everything you’ve written, but never anything quite finished as if for publication.

In order for a piece of writing to be finished, it must be complete, and to be complete is to be perfect—i.e., nothing more necessary.  It’s as good as it can be.  To reach that achievement takes the “adversity” in the quote—hard work, struggle, challenge, discomfort, even suffering, but the end result will be something produced by a true writer.  Adversity makes men (and women—not boys or girls).  True Grit, if you will. Professionals.

But it takes work, adversity, not the prosperity of just putting words down and moving on to the next piece—that’s playtime.

These two quotes cover well my intentions with this particular writing/editing class.

Author: Valerie Serrano

Valerie Serrano has a master of fine arts degree in creative writing and a bachelor of arts in psychology. Valerie taught English and writing in New York for seven years (1996-2003), and has been teaching creative writing classes online through www.LetsWrite.com and in Santa Rosa, California, where she now resides, since 2012. Her small business is called Let's Write! from which she also offers editing, self-publishing help, and more (such as motivation to good but scared writers). Val loves every minute of it, especially when students have the gumption to take their writing from first (very) rough draft to (self) published. Valerie has self-published her own novel called The Archangel of Hamilton Beach and a children’s picture book, Horses Talk Funny, both available on Amazon and via her blog. Val loves to say: So, Let's Write!

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