Friday, 8 January 2010

Truman Capote, the Pencil and the Typewriter

"I am a completely horizontal author", Truman Capote admitted. Like Proust, Capote was a bed fiend as if cocooning himself into an horizontal position facilitated the flow of thought. He said he never used a typewriter when he started on a piece of writing: both the first draft of his work and later the complete revision were written in pencil longhand.
Then I type a third draft on yellow paper, a very special certain kind of yellow paper. No, I don't get out of bed to do this. I balance the machine on my knees. Sure, it works fine; I can manage a hundred words in a minute. Well, when the yellow draft is finished, I put the manuscript away for a while, a week, a month, sometimes longer. ... if all goes well, I type the final version on white paper and that's that.

Truman Capote used Blackwing 602 pencils. 
Photo courtesy of

Capote kept notebooks with outlines for stories for sometime but found that this "somehow deadened the idea of [his] imagination. If the notion is good enough, if it truly belongs to you, then you can't forget it - it will haunt you till it's written".

Truman Capote (1924-1984)  

The Art of Fiction no. 17. Truman Capote. Interviewed by Pati Hill. Paris Review, issue 16, Spring-Summer 1957. On Capote's In Cold Blood read The Guardian's "In Cold Blood, Half a Century On", 16 November 2009.

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