Steve Jobs once said, “Life is lived going forward, but it is understood looking backward,” and it often takes a while to see the good in the bad things that have happened to us.
A case in point involved an incident in the life of the writer, Ernest Hemingway, whose straightforward prose and understated style of writing won him the Nobel Prize for Literature.
Before he became a celebrated writer, Hemingway worked for many years as a foreign correspondent for the Toronto Daily Star. He reported during the day and wrote fiction at night. In the winter of 1922 while on assignment in Lausanne, France, he invited his wife, Elizabeth, to join him for Christmas. For reasons still unknown, she decided to carry the manuscripts of one of his novels in progress with her.
On the train to Lauasanne, however, the bag carrying his manuscripts was stolen! Elizabeth got off the train, weeping. Hemingway told her not to worry and that he had made carbon copies of all his writings. Through her tears and sobs, Elizabeth told him that those carbon copies had also been in the bag that had been stolen!
One can only imagine the writer’s chagrin.
But to his great credit, Hemingway did not give up. Instead, he found an interesting way to adapt to the reality of the situation. With the pressure of time deadlines weighing heavily on him, Hemingway shifted his writing style to shorter sentences, cleaner paragraphs and more readable prose. He could write faster this way, and this new method of expressing himself went on to become his signature literary style!
Four years later, his book, The Sun Also Rises, was published and became a bestseller. The rest, as they say, is history.
Hemingway became a better writer because of the biggest disaster ever to befall his early career. Sometimes it is only in retrospect that we understand the value of our troubles.
Have a great week! And keep the faith!