He was a man of many guises, a globe-trotter, a hedonist who loved women and wine and a man who involved himself in violent activities such as boxing, bullfighting and big game hunting.
His ambition for such measures stemmed from being brought up by a stern father who despised loafing and believed in constant self improvement for his children and insisting that they adopt a devoutly ethical approach to recreation.
He embraced the notion that even leisure activities like travelling, eating and drinking should serve a purpose in their pursuits. He therefore approached each with an adventurous instinct and audacity and as a writer this belief translated into a vibrant, daring professionalism that made him world renowned before he was thirty.
He saw his life as research for his novels. He lived as he wrote and he wrote as he lived. And although the end of his life was as tragic as his career was iconic he lived his life to the fullest from the African plains to the pubs of Paris and to the coast of Cuba.
He was a master of embracing the everyday highs and lows of life and mining every bit of beauty, energy and emotion from them. He had a process by which he lived and thrived.
He believed that a writer could only write what he knew to be true and so he sought to learn as much as he possibly could about life in the places where people congregated most: pubs, cafes and restaurants.
He would head to a local pub for lunch and drinks in which he would study human nature all around him as research for his works and often with friends on whom he could test out his ideas and his characters emotions.
He established a routine for his day down to the smallest details. One of his unique habits was to leave off his writing at a place where he knew what was coming next. He would stop writing around lunchtime calling it a day, knowing that he had more writing in him. This made him feel certain that when he came to write the next day he would not struggle to create momentum.
It’s like the saying ‘You can’t discover new lands without losing sight of the shore,’ for him to be creative, there had to be a constant willingness to let go – of assumptions, of current knowledge, of safety nets. But there was also a need for structure if he wanted to create something memorable and that should be handled on a daily basis.
He is non other than Ernest Hemingway who had a strong influence on 20th century fiction in which many of his works are considered today to be classics of American literature.
Which just goes to show that being a writer, a creator, an artist shouldn’t confine you to one spot, one location, one environment. It’s about going out into the open world and embracing what it has to offer. Communing with nature, with people, with strangers and being open to receive what is thrown at you.
If we weren’t compelled to discover new ways of being and doing, we would stagnate as a species and as individuals. In order to make progress in creation we need to explore and go beyond the boundaries of limitations.
Adventures, explorations and discoveries are activities that require freedom of action and expression and Ernest Hemingway was a master at this. His ability to embrace the everyday highs and lows of life – relationships and responsibilities – and mining every bit of beauty, energy and emotion from them was what made him the success that he was and this needs to be acknowledged and incorporated by every living artist out there.
So, let’s be earnest with ourselves and aim to make the most of what life, out there, has to offer us.