AREN'T YOU curious how writers write? I
waste spend my time online reading about my favorite novelists' habits, my curiosity comparable to the old wives' fascination with Sunday showbiz gossip. My favorite haunts are the Paris Review interviews, Writers at Work, among other random websites. The conclusion I've come to is that each writer has different preferences. Some type everything directly in the computer, others use the ancient typewriter, and some like to write on paper.
James Salter liked to write on paper.
Two years ago I read James Salter's A Sport and a Pastime, a novel about an American who visits France and falls in love with a French woman whom he deserts in the end. I enjoyed James Salter's prose. His sentences were short and evocative—an easy read altogether, and just about the right way to enjoy my summer afternoons.
Photographs of James Salter's notebooks are featured in the The Daily Beast website.
He has a neat handwriting. He likes writing in cursive. He uses ordinary ballpoint pens. He likes ruled notebooks.
My favorite paragraph in A Sport and a Pastime appears at the notebook's right lower quadrant below.
I am awake before dawn, 0545, the bells striking three times, far off and then a moment later very near. The most devout moments of my life have been spent in bed at night listening to those bells. They flood over me, drawing me out of myself. I know where I am suddenly: part of this town and happy. I lean out of the window and am washed by the cool air, air it seems no one has yet breathed . . . And then the pure, melancholy, first blue of morning begins. The air one can bathe in. The electric shriek of a train. Heels on the sidewalk. The first birds. I cannot sleep.
Visit The Daily Beast for more photos.