Friday, 8 February 2008

Another way of working

Many of us are writing, re-writing or maybe even proofing novels at the moment and we all have our own means and methods. I came across this lovely nugget today and wanted to share it with you:

"Balzac would set off for the printer's with his camp-bed and manuscripts...for nineteen hours a day he took the pages hot off the presses, made corrections, handed them back, then wrote the next part of the novel while the corrected pages were reprinted. Twenty workers were kept busy for a month and two novels were completed. ....One of the workers worked so hard that he began to spit blood."
(from Balzac by Graham Robb)

I have seen pictures of his 'corrected' proofs and they are basically rewrites of his first drafts. Those poor 'workers'. The author of the above extract observed that Balzac was the first example of a writer using a computer,"with human beings and hydraulic press instead of microchips and a laser-printer"

Makes sitting in front of an actual computer for hours on end with cups of tea, some choice CDs and the delete key seem an absolute joy.


HelenMH said...

It's another world isn't it?


I sometimes feel I'm ready to spit blood, but not for quite the same reasons!

Great post though - I love these little insights into how things used to be, it does make you feel we 'don't know we're born' :o)

Sarah Dunnakey said...

Yeah I'm really getting into finding out what writers got up to in pre-computer days - I'll post up anything of interest!