A published author and a Facebook friend posted the following exchange to her profile, excerpted from a Paris Review Interview with Ernest Hemingway.
How much rewriting do you do?
It depends. I rewrote the ending to Farewell to Arms, the last page of it, thirty-nine times before I was satisfied.
Was there some technical problem there? What was it that had stumped you?
Getting the words right.
His is a marvelous and pithy response, underscoring again that brevity is not only the soul of wit, but devilishly difficult to achieve.
I’m curious, can you top Papa Hemingway’s 39-times-a-charm ? Have you rewritten a scene not dozens but scores of times? If so, what sort of scene were you struggling with?