On Bad Writing

I was thinking today of Ernest Hemingway.

Hemingway was a writer I discovered in college, and I discovered Hemingway much on my own. I cannot think of a single English class where I had to read any Hemingway. One day, I went to the bookstore, picked up a copy of A Farewell to Arms, plucked down my money, and that started me on the road to a love affair with Papa’s writing.

Yes, I just called Hemingway “Papa.” Actually, I doubt I’ve ever called Hemingway “Papa” in any other setting–I was really just writing to see if it’d freak anyone out.

(I did, however, enjoy it greatly with Yakko, Wakko, and Dot kept calling Hemingway “Papa,” especially how it drove him insane. But the Warner Brothers and the Warner Sister Dot can do that to a person.)

There used to be, and I’m unsure if there still is, a contest where people could write “Bad Hemingway,” stories written in his muscular, spare style, but bad. Two anthologies collecting entries from this contest were published–I used to own both, until an unfortunate moving accident sent them to the wastelands of New Jersey from whence they have never returned. (Along with my Holmesian Federation fanzine collection — actually, that was more important to me, but they’re gone now. Bastard.)

I’ve sometimes thought about writing a Bad Hemingway story. It would have bullfights. It would have cryptically coded oral sex. It would have wine. It would have a villa. It would be manly.

The bull snorted. Its nostrils flared. Steam rose. It stamped the ground.

The fighter entered the ring. He liked the ring.

He thought of the wine. The wine was good. It was red. Red like his cape.

He thought of the villa. He might never again see it. He thought of his woman there. He thought of how she massaged his head. He thought of her kisses. His head felt good.

Yes, it’s laughably bad.

I wonder if this contest still runs, if people still write Bad Hemingway and think of bullfights and Spain.

Published by Allyn

A writer, editor, journalist, sometimes coder, occasional historian, and all-around scholar, Allyn Gibson is the writer for Diamond Comic Distributors' monthly PREVIEWS catalog, used by comic book shops and throughout the comics industry, and the editor for its monthly order forms. In his over ten years in the industry, Allyn has interviewed comics creators and pop culture celebrities, covered conventions, analyzed industry revenue trends, and written copy for comics, toys, and other pop culture merchandise. Allyn is also known for his short fiction (including the Star Trek story "Make-Believe,"the Doctor Who short story "The Spindle of Necessity," and the ReDeus story "The Ginger Kid"). Allyn has been blogging regularly with WordPress since 2004.

2 thoughts on “On Bad Writing

  1. 😆
    A few years ago (more like half a decade ago) I read a book called “Trek Not Taken”. It looked at how Star Trek stories would be written if famous authors were to write them, and IRC, there was a Hemingway inspired story in the collection.

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