A Letter to Hemingway

Dear Ernest,

I’m writing you with gratitude, for you said to write hard and clear about what hurts; for saying that there’s nothing to writing, all we have to do is sit on a typewriter and bleed. I’m a writer, and it seriously hurts. I bleed all over the place, and even later after, wherever I go, it seems like I attract pain. When I write, I wish I could get into the flow and forget, but the more I write, the more falling into the oblivion becomes impossible.

As it might surprise you, people underestimate words, and this pains me to the core. They accuse them of being empty, or big and without a purpose. They rip the artistic nature of writing and words. They think words are weak evidence when it comes to expressing love and feelings. I’m a coward, Hemingway. I failed at defending words with all my might. All I can say is that I have engraved them on the wooden doors of my brain, I carved them into my soul. I’m made of words, verbs, adjectives, and adverbs.

Somedays I imagine that I’m swimming in an ocean of verbs, trying to pick the strongest one that tastes like thoughts and feelings. I might hit an adjective by accident and as it drifts away, it comes back in a more descriptive form. Various lit jellyfish of memories are floating nearby. They’re beautiful from afar, but they’ll end me if I got near. Corals of pain urge me to put them into words and waves of distinct characters living inside my mind are eager to be revived and known and to have a name. All I can do is marvel at my ability to breathe underwater despite being a human.

I apologize to you, Hemingway, because words as art are of less validation than they were on your time. They even said that actions speak louder than words. Can you conceive of it? You see, Hemingway, when you said that “You’re utterly and completely alone in this world; no one has read the books you read, watched the movies you watched or loves the same songs just as you do, or like the things you like.” you were brutally honest; too honest that I don’t want to think of how lonely we really are in this world.

At days, my ability to utter words dissolves; all I want to do is write. “Do you want to talk about it?” my friend would ask, and I would reply, “No, I want to write about it.” but she never understands what I mean by that. It joys me to believe that if we were friends you would have understood what I meant, you would have waited for me to write about it so you can read what I had put down on paper. You said that the first draft of anything is shit and that we write drunk and edit sober. You wouldn’t have minded reading my drunk version of words, would you? Failure is not a failure because others say so, and defeat cannot be defined as such except by our own definition.

One late night I got into a cap, and I wasn’t in my home country. I started chitchatting with the driver, who was from South Africa. When I told him what my name is, he informed me that the African meaning of Ola is precious and worth. His name is Hope. His mother gave him this name, so he always remembers that life is full of losses, but he cannot ever lose hope. I told him that you, Hemingway, wrote before that, “It’s silly not to hope.” 

So I keep hoping, wishing, to be in a world where words are respected, valued, weighed, and appreciated.

Yours truly,


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