“I don’t own a computer. I write longhand. In notebooks. It’s then typed up. Retyped until I feel I’ve got it.” Sam Shepard
Broadway’s lights were dimmed last night in honor of Sam Shepard, actor, author of many stories and plays — a troubles troubadour of the soul who turned a difficult life into art through plays like Buried Child and Fool for Love. My fellow poetry lover and cherished KWD reader, Pat Carrigan, alerted me to a wonderful site for all things literary. It featured a tribute to Sam Shepard that shared some of his musings on writing. A few to ponder:
On voice: I’ve heard writers talk about ‘discovering a voice,’ but for me that wasn’t a problem. There were so many voices that I didn’t know where to start. It was splendid, really; I felt kind of like a weird stenographer. I don’t mean to make it sound like hallucination, but there were definitely things there, and I was just putting them down. I was fascinated by how they structured themselves, and it seemed like the natural place to do it was on a stage. A lot of the time when writers talk about their voice they’re talking about a narrative voice. For some reason my attempts at narrative turned out really weird. I didn’t have that kind of voice, but I had a lot of other ones, so I thought, Well, I’ll follow those. (from The Paris Review‘s The Art of Theater interview, 1997)
On his writing regimen: When something kicks in, I devote everything to it and write constantly until it’s finished. But to sit down every day and say, I’m going to write, come hell or high water—no, I could never do that. . . There are certain attitudes that shut everything down. It’s very easy, for example, to get a bad attitude from a movie. I mean you’re trapped in a trailer, people are pounding on the door, asking if you’re ready, and at the same time you’re trying to write. . . . Film locations are a great opportunity to write. I don’t work on plays while I’m shooting a movie, but I’ve done short stories and a couple of novels. (from The Paris Review‘s The Art of Theater interview, 1997)
On being a writer: I feel very lucky and privileged to be a writer. I feel lucky in the sense that I can branch out into prose and tell different kinds of stories and stuff. But being a writer is so great because you’re literally not dependent on anybody.
Bravo, Sam! He lives on in the hearts of those who love him and in his words. Write on!