Saturday, June 4, 2022

the last book I ever read (My Autobiography by Charie Chaplin, excerpt thirteen)

from My Autobiography by Charlie Chaplin:

Occasionally we spent a week-end at the John Steinbecks’. They had a small house near Monterey. He was just on the threshold of fame, having written Tortilla Flat and a series of short stories. John worked in the morning and averaged about two thousand words a day. I was amazed at how neat were his pages, with hardly a correction. I envy him.

I like to know the way writers work and how much they turn out a day. Thomas Mann averaged about 400 words a day. Lion Feuchtwanger dictated 2,000 words, which averaged 600 written words a day. Somerset Maugham wrote 400 words a day just to keep in practice. H. G. Wells averaged 1,000 words a day, Hannen Swaffer, the English journalist, wrote from 4,000 to 5,000 words a day. The American critic, Alexander Woollcott, wrote a 700-word review in fifteen minutes, then joined a poker game – I was there when he did it. Hearst would write a 2,000-word editorial in an evening. Georges Simenon has written a short novel in a month–and of excellent literary quality. Georges tells me that he gets up at five in the morning, brews his own coffee, then sits at his desk and rolls a golden ball, the size of a tennis ball, and thinks. He writes with a pen and when I asked him why he wrote in such small handwriting, he said: ‘It requires less effort of the wrist.’ As for myself I dictate about 1,000 words a day, which averages me about 300 in finished dialogue for my films.

The Steinbecks had no servants, his wife did all the housework. It was a wonderful ménage and I was very fond of her.

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