Beverly Cleary, writing by hand:
To me, writing involves my imagination, a handful of 29-cent ball point pens, a stack of paper and time free from interruption. I often begin books in the middle or at the end and play about with my characters in my poor handwriting until I am satisfied with their behavior, which is often a surprise to me. That is the fun of writing. I then rewrite my books in somewhat more legible typing and take them to a typist who telephones for translation of words written between the lines but manages to return pristine manuscripts. I find typing the most difficult part of writing, and once bought and returned a German typewriter that had Achtung! printed on the front. Battling a typewriter is distracting enough without having it giving me orders like an arithmetic book. Telling stories quietly and privately with pen on paper is my joy.This passage appeared in a 1985 essay published in The New York Times , “Why Are Children Writing to Me Instead of Reading?” A good question, one that results from the classroom study of “living authors.” Cleary quotes from a letter by E. B. White to a librarian in which he wonders about the wisdom of having classrooms’ worth of children write letters to writers. A sentence from the letter that Cleary is too kind to quote: “The author is hopelessly outnumbered.” In another letter, to a child, White explained why he hadn’t written another book for children: “I would like to write another book for children but I spend all my spare time just answering the letters I get from children about the books I have already written.”
Elaine found her way to the Times essay after reading Cleary’s two memoirs. They’re on my to-read list.
On an unrelated note: it’s really hard to type while listening to the Kinks.
Beverly Cleary : handwriting : E. B. White (Pinboard)
[White’s letter to the unidentified librarian is dated May 7, 1961. The letter to a child-reader dates from late March 1961. From Letters of E. B. White , ed. Dorothy Lobrano Guth (New York: Harper & Row, 1976). White would go on to write one more book for children, The Trumpet of the Swan (1970).]