Writer Quotes: Hemingway.

“The most essential gift for a good writer is a built-in, shockproof shit detector. This is the writer’s radar and all great writers have had it.” -Ernest Hemingway.

Searching for a quote this morning because my brain feels far too dull to come up with anything creative to post today (although that should change in about half an hour, because I did pick up a new coffee maker!), I came across this little jewel and had to laugh. I’m finding that one of the hardest things about putting together all of my short stories and sprucing them up for a collection is that my own internal shit radar goes off the charts. Okay, there are parts of my short stories that I really enjoy, but, as a whole, I’m feeling fairly disenchanted with my ability to write well enough to have something ready and presentable by March. The temptation to just scrap all the old stuff and just pull a bunch of new stuff out of a hat is strong, but the new stuff is almost as bad, if not worse. What’s a writer to do?

But it did get me thinking that perhaps one’s shit radar, for some people, is calibrated a little too tightly for our own work. I’m sure there are some writers out there who can put crap on a paper and think it’s the best thing ever written, but, in my experience, most of us authors are a modest bunch, a self-depreciating bunch. We are our own worst critics. So, while I know my shit radar is a valuable tool and I know I’ll use it quite liberally when encountering other works, I’m going to go ahead and ignore it for the time being. I’ll trust in the shit radar of my fellow authors to let me know what works and what doesn’t, rather than letting myself boot them out of the running before they even see the light of day.

Having a shit radar is nice and all, but what I’d say is even more valuable are friends and associates with their own finely-tuned shit radar and a nice whopping dose of truthfulness.

I’d also like to thank Subhakar Das for following the blog! Welcome aboard! I’m looking forward to reading your posts, too!

Happy Saturday, everyone! Here’s to hoping that my workday is Not That Bad.


  1. turn the shit radar off and just let the shit land where it may…. soon it will dissolve.. it may stink for a little while… but sooner or later that shit provides fertilizer for the good stuff….

    bad analogy but…. your talent far will far out weigh the shit radar of anyone…..

  2. This post reminded of this time in college when a writer came and spoke at our “Career Paths For English Majors” ,course (the biggest waste of time and at times like looking into a bottomless void)- ANYWAY, this writer came and spoke and he was such a tool. Like a major one. I still wonder why the professor had this blight of society come and talk to us. He made it sound like to be a writer you had to be a narissistic asshole. It really turned me off of ever being a writer.

    I wish I’d had my bullshit detector out back then cause I would’ve started writing seriously a lot sooner. You don’t have to think everything you write’s gold, I don’t think.

    Ooh ooh! I just thought of what it is like! You know on American Idol (I know, none of us watch this, it’s beneath us, just play along) when they have the terrible try-outs and we all wonder “how the HELL do they not know they suck?” Well, I think there are some people who are delusional. Maybe their parents praised them too much as a kid. They never learned that good things take work and practice. But they do think they’re GOd’s gift to singing, (bless their hearts).

    All this to say, I think it’s a good thing that you can look at your writing and see where it is not where you want it to be. I know mine’s not! But I think that with practice and editing and a little magic, someday it won’t suck. It might be okay. At least we’re not like those pathetic losers on American Idol.

    I don’t know how my comment went how it did. Hi! I’m Heather, and I agree with Hemingway. πŸ™‚

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s