Outward Bound Ideas

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Friday, November 11, 2005

19. On Writing Your Autobiography, John Steinbeck

This is what John Steinbeck told Fred Allen. "Don't start by trying to make the book chronological. Just take a period. Then try to remember so clearly that you can see things: What colors and how warm or cold and how you got there. Then try to remember people. And then just tell what happened. It is important to tell what people looked like, how they walked, what they wore, what they ate."
"Put it all in. Don't try to organize it. And put in all the details you can remember. You will find that in a very short time things will begin coming back to you, you thought you had forgotten. Do it for very short periods at first but kind of think of it when you aren't doing it."
" Don't think back over what you have done. Don't think of literary form. Let it get out as it wants to. Overtell it in the matter of detail - cutting comes later. Don't make the telling follow a form"

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