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This is my weekly installment of “writing about writing,” in which I scan the world to find websites, books and articles to help other writers. Today I discuss a blog post about F. Scott Fitzgerald…
Writers need coddling. I learned that first as an editor, when I became the coddler. And then as a writer, when I turned into the person needing coddling.
We’re all sensitive, in doubt of our skill, skeptical of our talent and frightened to commit the damn words to paper. This is equally true of famous writers who need to be buoyed up by their agents, editors, publishers and friends.
F. Scott Fitzgerald (pictured above) was lucky enough to have a masterful coddler on his side: Ernest Hemingway. In a blog post headlined “Hemingway’s Tough-Love Letter of Advice to F. Scott Fitzgerald,” you can read the famous author’s advice to his equally-famous friend:
Forget your personal tragedy. We are all bitched from the start and you especially have to hurt like hell before you can write seriously. But when you get the damned hurt use it — don’t cheat with it. Be as faithful to it as a scientist — but don’t think anything is of any importance because it happens to you or anyone belonging to you… You see, Bo, you’re not a tragic character. Neither am I. All we are is writers and what we should do is write.
And I especially liked the concluding sentence of his letter:
Good writers always come back. Always. You are twice as good now as you were at the time you think you were so marvellous. You know I never thought so much of Gatsby at the time. You can write twice as well now as you ever could. All you need to do is write truly and not care about what the fate of it is. Go on and write.
Don’t you wish you had a friend like that?