Laila Tova: Stein and Hemingway: Four Reasons the Editorial Relationship Remains Essential in the 21st Century

Gertrude Stein was undoubtedly disturbed and undeniably brilliant. Ernest Hemingway attacked writing with the same fervor as his beloved bulls charged his lauded matadors. Together, they form one of the most iconic pairs of the Lost Generation. In case you hadn’t noticed, their massive personalities belie a crucial artistic relationship:  the editorial one. Here are five reasons you must invite an editor into your writing process:

1.       By bringing his work to Stein’s salon for her critique, Hemingway exposed himself to other great artists of his time. He formed strong bonds with some of them, including F. Scott Fitzgerald, and his personal and professional horizons thusly broadened. While social media allows us to connect, however momentarily, with millions of artists worldwide, the Salon Effect is decidedly a source of quality contact with vetted artists. Among collaborating writers, an editor makes an excellent matchmaker.

2.       Stein and Hemingway argued more often than they agreed. They were, in many ways, polar opposites – an endless source of creative friction that challenged Hemingway’s innermost beliefs about himself and his craft. When you, as an artist, allow an editor to push you past your own limits of perception, you are led in a process of self-discovery – a place from which all art flows.

3.       This process is, essentially, the translation of experience. Stein often corrected and revised Hemingway’s work, showing him where the holes were and holding him to a high artistic standard. In time, his writing matured, even adopting some aspects of her process and making them his own – ultimately forming the style he is still remembered for. Now, think of your work. Do you possess a distinct voice? Were you not its author, could you recognize your own writing? An editor will help you find this voice, focus it, and translate its message to your audience.

4.       The credibility of Stein’s name and mentorship lent him afforded the respect of many in Paris and New York, permitting Hemingway to leap from mid-level journalism into full pursuit of literary composition. Even when their editorial relationship later dissolved in controversy, Stein and Hemingway each benefited from their association, their respective audiences (and, of course, their posthumous readership) overlapping and expanding. Similarly, post-modern editors and authors lend each other credibility and status when publicly working together.

Yet, while it is easy to focus solely on the “exposure” that a publisher can provide, the most reputable and coveted ones prioritize the editorial process, hoping, above all else, to produce works that possess both market and literary value. Each of these values diminish when lacking the other; Stein and Hemingway were both expanded and illuminated by the work of the other, and the literary world enlarged with them. So, friends, if you don’t have an editor, get one! Would you want your work to be capable of any less?

Laila Tova, a mid-twenties student, full time mother, and editor, hails from the lush state of Washington. She has published a chapbook 'Paradis: poems of the sea' and has been a crucial component in the editorial dept. of our founder, Josh Dale's, debut chapbook: 'Duality Lies Beneath'. She is a co-editor of Eris Magazine and operates Thorn+Glory, an online jewelry store.


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