Monday, November 19, 2012

What They Said Edition: Truman Capote

By: Michala T. 

When asked what are some of your writing habits, Capote replied:

I am a completely horizontal author. I can't think unless I'm lying down, either in bed or stretched on a couch and with a cigarette and coffee handy. I've got to be puffing and sipping. As the afternoon wears on, I shift from coffee to mint tea to sherry to martinis. No, I don't use a typewriter. Not in the beginning. I write my first version in longhand (pencil). Then I do a complete revision, also in longhand. Essentially I think of myself as a stylist, and stylists can become notoriously obsessed with the placing of a comma, the weight of a semicolon. Obsessions of this sort, and the time I take over them, irritate me beyond endurance.
The Paris Review, Issue 16, 1957

I personally do not smoke (anymore) and I've never drank coffee, though I do enjoy a hot chocolate every now and again. I can, however, completely understand where he is coming from when he said he can't think unless he is lying down. I love the ideas that I get in those moments right before I fall asleep. The problem is...when you are so close to sleeping you either 1.) are too lazy to get up to write the idea down, or 2.) fall asleep and forget the idea upon waking.  Now, I have found the perfect solution to this problem. Keep a recorder beside your bed so you can just hit the record button and voila! Idea saved and sleep embraced.

I wrote my first and second novellas in longhand. It wasn't terrible. I mean, back then there were typewriters and I did end up typing the stories but I preferred the closeness of my writing and thus longhand was my choice of poison. Today I have tried to go longhand and I wouldn't dare consider wish it on my enemy. Why the change? I had time when I was younger. I wrote everything longhand. Hell, I wrote twelve page letters to my best friend nearly every hour! And some of them were in our secret code (that we made up). Longhand is long and my hand tires easily these days.

As for proofreading and editing, I tend to go crazy with my first draft and even my second draft. I don't like to constrict my writing by trying to get every period, semicolon, and run-on sentence corrected. I want it to be perfect but I don't need it perfect for me. I'm not obsessed over it like Capote was. I'm more likely to find someone who is proficient in that field and pay them to do it for me. Hey, we have to support each other, right?

Where do you get your most inspiring ideas? Do you have to be horizontal as well?


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