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“The Pacific is my home ocean; I knew it first, grew up on its shore, collected marine animals along the coast. I know its moods, its color, its nature. It was very far inland that I caught the first smell of the Pacific. When one has been long at sea, the smell of land reaches far out to greet one. And the same is true when one has been long inland. I believe I smelled the sea rocks and the kelp and the excitement of churning sea water, the sharpness of iodine and the under odor of washed and ground calcareous shells. Such a far-off and remembered odor comes subtly so that one does not consciously smell it, but rather an electric excitement is released -- a kind of boisterous joy.”—John Steinbeck, Travels With Charley
Six tips on writing from John Steinbeck
- Abandon the idea that you are ever going to finish. Lose track of the 400 pages, and write just one page for each day, it helps. Then, when it gets finished, you are always surprised.
- Write as freely and as rapidly as possible and throw the whole thing on paper. Never correct or rewrite until the whole thing is down. Rewrite in process is usually found to be an excuse for not going on. It also interferes with flow and rhythm which can only come from a kind of unconscious association with the material.
- Forget your generalized audience. In the first place, the nameless, faceless audience will scare you to death, and in the second place, unlike the theatre, it doesn’t exist. In writing, your audience is one single reader. I have found that sometimes it helps to pick out one person— a real person you know or an imagined person and write to that one.
- If a scene or a section get the better of you, and you still think you want it— by-pass it and go on. When you have finished the whole you can come back to it, and then you may find that the reason it gave trouble is because it didn’t belong there.
- Beware of a scene that becomes too dear to you, dearer than the rest. It will usually be found that it is out of drawing.
- If you are using dialogue, say it aloud as you write it. Only then will it have the sound of speech.