Dorothy Parker: On Writing

Taken from The Paris Review interview by Marion Capron

How do you actually write out a story?

It takes me six months to do a story. I think it out and then write it sentence by sentence—no first draft. I can’t write five words but that I change seven.

How do you name your characters?

The telephone book and from the obituary columns.

Do you keep a notebook?

I tried to keep one, but I never could remember where I put the damn thing. I always say I’m going to keep one tomorrow.

How do you get the story down on paper?

I wrote in longhand at first, but I’ve lost it. I use two fingers on the typewriter. I think it’s unkind of you to ask. I know so little about the typewriter that once I bought a new one because I couldn’t change the ribbon on the one I had.

How about the novel? Have you ever tried that form?

I wish to God I could do one, but I haven’t got the nerve.

Do you think economic security an advantage to the writer? 

Yes. Being in a garret doesn’t do you any good unless you’re some sort of a Keats. The people who lived and wrote well in the twenties were comfortable and easy living. They were able to find stories and novels, and good ones, in conflicts that came out of two million dollars a year, not a garret. As for me, I’d like to have money. And I’d like to be a good writer. These two can come together, and I hope they will, but if that’s too adorable, I’d rather have money. I hate almost all rich people, but I think I’d be darling at it.

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Literary Birthday - 22 August - Dorothy Parker

Dorothy Parker was born 22 August 1893, and died 7 June 1967. 

The 10 Most Memorable Dorothy Parker Quotes

  1. This is not a novel to be tossed aside lightly. It should be thrown with great force.
  2. Don’t look at me in that tone of voice.
  3. I don’t know much about being a millionaire, but I’ll bet I’d be darling at it.
  4. I hate writing, I love having written.
  5. That would be a good thing for them to cut on my tombstone: Wherever she went, including here, it was against her better judgement.
  6. I’d like to have money. And I’d like to be a good writer. These two can come together, and I hope they will, but if that’s too adorable, I’d rather have money.
  7. But I don’t give up; I forget why not.
  8. The only “ism” Hollywood believes in is plagiarism.
  9. Living well is the best revenge.
  10.   Razors pain you,
          Rivers are damp,
          Acids stain you,
          And drugs cause cramp.
          Guns aren’t lawful,
          Nooses give,
          Gas smells awful.
          You might as well live.

Read about Dorothy Parker's thoughts on writing here.

Parker was an American poet, short story writer, critic and satirist.

 by Amanda Patterson. Follow her on  Pinterest,  Facebook,  Google+,  Tumblr  and Twitter.  

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Writers Write offers the best writing courses in South Africa. Writers Write - Write to communicate