CC commended a book to my attention – Music for Chameleons by Truman Capote. It is a collection of essays and short stories. Specifically, she thought I should have a look at Capote’s preface. She was right. I want to share one paragraph from the preface with you, but I commend the whole thing to your attention should you ever come across it.
I started writing when I was eight – out of the blue, uninspired by any example. I’d never known anyone who wrote; indeed, I knew few people who read. But the fact was, the only four things that interested me were: reading books, going to the movies, tap dancing, and drawing pictures. Then one day I started writing, not knowing that I had chained myself for life to a noble but merciless master. When God hands you a gift, he also hands you a whip; and the whip is intended solely for self-flagellation.
I must say this about Capote: If you knew him only from his writing, you would never in a million years imagine him to be as he was in person. His roots as a journalist are always on full display on the page – factual, lucid, to the point, aglow with the insight of a gifted observer. As I recall him from his numerous appearances on the Tonight Show, he always seemed a most fussy, pitiable, and altogether preposterous man, more akin to an oddball comic or sad-sack character actor than to an accomplished writer.
But back to that preface I quoted above – there is something very inspiring to me as a writer about the story of his growth as a writer, as well as the skill with which he tells that story.