An artist given to sexual excess was almost a cliché, but no one seemed to mind. As long as you were making something good or interesting or sensational, you could have as many lovers as you wanted and ruin them all. What was really unacceptable were bourgeois values, wanting something small and staid and predictable, like one true love, or a child. (145)
Ah, the artist as bohemian. (Borderline heathen.) Sex, drugs, rock ‘n roll. That’s what we’re supposed to be, right? Wild. As if morals, or other “strappings of society,” would dampen our creativity.
I don’t think that stereotype is as strong today as it used to be, but it isn’t completely eradicated. My own mother tells me that I’m too square (lol) and worries that this limits me, that it’s hindering my path to success. I’m never sure exactly what to say to that, except that I think it’s ridiculous.
Creativity is not about being “wild.” It’s about imagination, observation, distillation. And artistry is about pushing creativity to its max. It’s dedication, discipline, mastery.
There’s no reason that I can’t forge that path in a quiet way. In fact, some might argue that the stability of my life allows me the freedom to explore my writing without fear.
(Of course, some would argue that fear is an incredibly motivating force…)
Also, I wish people would stop knocking normal. Not everyone can be “special,” not everyone can “change the world.” Maybe if more of us would teach our kids that being good and ordinary is just as worthy as any other path in life, we’d have a happier, better world.
“I’m trying to keep it alive,” he said. “To stay with the action, and not try to put in what I’m feeling about it. Not think about myself at all, but what really happened. That’s where the real emotion is.” (162)
Upon a suggestion from F. Scott Fitzgerald, Hemingway cuts most of the opening of THE SUN ALSO RISES, which consisted largely of backstory for the main characters. Starting with backstory was apparently the common practice in novels at the time. But instead, Hemingway decides to jump right in with the action, and to strip out the narrative reflection, and to employ sparse, direct prose. All practices that are considered paramount in contemporary writing.
Throughout THE PARIS WIFE, I was fascinated by the evolution of Hemingway as a writer. This quote/anecdote gave me a glimpse into not just his evolution, but the evolution of storytelling as we know it.
I wonder what changes we are seeing — what changes we are making — right now. Young Adult literature as a genre, I think. First person present tense narration as the standard? Closer straddling of the literary-commercial line? What trends are here to stay, versus just marking a place in time? Which authors will have the impact of Hemingway, or Fitzgerald, or Salinger?
That we’ll probably never know the answers to those questions is both beauty and tragedy. It’s for the next generation of readers and writers to uncover.