Joe Haldeman on writing longhand

Can you tell by my headline which writer I’ve become obsessed with lately? Besides reading his novel The Forever War, I became interested in the fact he writes his science fiction novels, generally set in the far future, in longhand.

In this podcast below, he talks about his process and about writing in longhand:


3 thoughts on “Joe Haldeman on writing longhand

  1. Todd, thanks so much for this link. I listened to the podcast and read the post and haven’t enjoyed anything so much in a while. Then I went to Haldeman’s blog and read it and many of his travel pieces. The one on Venice is fascinating in part because it dovetailed with a Hemingway conference there that Haldeman attended. He wrote at one point:

    “Characteristically, [H.R. Stoneback] dropped a bombshell at the end. A nineteenth-century Italian novelist, Manzone, wrote a novel that was immensely popular at the time, _Betrothed_, that had the same plot as _Farewell_: A soldier is disillusioned with combat and has made a woman pregnant, and to escape the Italian army he rows with his bride across Lake Maggiore to neutral Switzerland. Key scenes are repeated, and both characters quote Julius Caesar. When EH’s main character is in Milan, the only street he identifies by name, and he does it several times, is Manzone.”

    I reread the novel last summer and loved the language and landscape descriptions but hated other things. Interesting to think that Hem stole the plot.

  2. In the video I posted a few days ago of Haldeman speaking at MIT, he mentions how important Hemingway was to him as a writer, though Hemingway really disliked any sort of fantasy or science fiction writing. But certainly while I’ve been reading Haldeman’s Forever War, the Hemingway influence is there, though the novel draws more on Haldeman’s Vietnam experience. Haldeman’s prose is fluid and the story is character-driven.

    For some reason I think I had heard Hemingway had stolen Farewell’s plot from somewhere else. Anyway, really no different from Shakespeare or numerous other masters appropriating other works and making them their own. Not plagiarism, of course. There’s certainly enough of Hemingway’s raw experience transformed into fiction to make Farewell legitimately original. And from all the biographical material I’ve read, Hemingway struggled mightily with the ending of Farewell, eliciting help from Fitzgerald and from Max Perkins.

  3. Exile, in the fascinating Hemingway Papers collection at the University of Massachusetts, I came across a folder with all the endings EH tried out for Farewell . . . it was an amazing number; I think 43. Catherine dies in childbirth or lives happily ever after and 41 things in between.

    Joe Haldeman

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