Never Talk To Anyone

“However am now going to write a swell novel- will not talk about it on account the greater ease of talking about it than writing it and consequent danger of doing same.” Ernest Hemingway (in a letter to F. Scott Fitzgerald 1927)

How many times have you heard the phrase “never talk to anyone about your novel before you begin to write it”? I know I have. My English teachers, other writers and writing professionals have said to me: If you have an idea just jot it down before you do anything about it and sometimes even forget about it.

“You never know when a lovely idea is going to flit suddenly into your mind, but by golly, when it does come along, you grab it with both hands and hang on to it tight.” Roald Dahl

Most of us who are in love with books, with reading, with writing, and are fascinated with the written word and the world created by combinations of these words, are without doubt great dreamers. But we as novelists go a step further. We are not only dreaming but are always imagining. Imagination plays a far greater role in our lives than we normally acknowledge. At almost any moment during the day we find ourselves deep in daydreams. Either we are recasting, recapitulating our life, day by day or moment by moment, or reconstructing conversations and arguments so that we come out victorious, or imagining ourselves back in a simpler and happier period. All those naïve and satisfying dreams of which we are the unashamed heroes or heroines are the very heart, the essence of fiction. So our self, with its hidden secrets and desires and longings, its emotions, its lost loves and heartbreaks, its pains and pleasures, becomes the ideal object of our writing and we refer to it in the third person. And others read our fiction because they see themselves in our fictional characters, because we remind them somehow of themselves. Pamela Frankau writes:

“The precarious ride from the first clue to the beginning of the Rough may last many weeks. On the way I have to renew my vows of silence. In the rising excitement, with the dream unrolling in my head, it is easy to talk. And talking is fatal.”

Hence our story, our book is a journey of discovery and words are our medium, and effective use of them is our profession. If we confess so much and talk of the things we mean to write before actually writing them then we can destroy our greatest passion, our secret anticipation, and our hope of writing the book. And what’s more, we deny ourselves the pleasure of hearing the music of our own words. And in the words of Truman Capote:

“To me the greatest pleasure of writing is not what it’s about, but the music the words make.” 


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5 Responses to Never Talk To Anyone

  1. I’m afraid I always natter on about my writing, I really really useful because I have a small circle of friends who just let me fire ideas at them until I sort my own plot problems out. They just have to sit there and pretend to listen, I’m really quite lucky. 🙂
    Good luck with the writing.

  2. Maggie says:

    I try not to talk about my writing to anyone… at least not until I have a concrete idea in my head and I’m sure the idea is something I actually want to pursue.

  3. Pingback: Crossing The Finish Line | Ramblings

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