“The Trouble with Quotes on the Internet…”

A couple of months ago, my friend James Scott Bell posted a fascinating entry at The Kill Zone blog site. Jim is the author of thrillers like Try Dying and One More Lie. He’s also a great writing teacher (Plot & Structure). Here’s a snippet from his blog:

“Recently, I’ve seen another bastardized quotation zapping around the internet. It’s a quote attributed to Ernest Hemingway. As a Hemingway-phile, I was quite interested. The quote goes like this: ‘There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed.’

“I was immediately suspicious. Something was rotten in the state of Bartlett, for it was the great sports writer Red Smith who said, ‘There’s nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and just open a vein.’”

I’ve cited the Red Smith quote for years. So, like Jim Bell, I find the alleged Hemingway version annoying—especially since this fake quote is currently the fourth most-liked quote on the Goodreads quote page on writing. After all, the Red Smith wording (“open a vein”) is far superior to the faux-Hemingway wording (“bleed”).

It just goes to show that the timeless wisdom of our 16th president still holds true:

“The trouble with quotes on the Internet is that you never know if they are genuine.” —Abraham Lincoln.

Read the rest of James Scott Bell’s “The Perils of Internet Information” at The Kill Zone.

Leave a comment


  1. Hi Jim,
    I laughed out loud at your last quote. Great post.
    I hope you have a great writing week.


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