Fiction writing is all about inhabiting other lives so for this month’s Writers Ask Writers we’re answering the question: If you could live for one day as another author, past or present, who would it be and why?
Read on to find out who Kirsten would be. But if I could be a writer for a day, I would be Truman Capote.
Born in 1924, American writer Truman Capote is a man of my own heart, in many ways. He could read and write before he started school and allegedly, at age five, was often seen carrying a dictionary and notebook. One of his earliest jobs was as a ‘copyboy’ at The New Yorker, from which he got fired for pissing off Robert Frost. In 1948 he was catapulted into fame when his debut novel, Other Voices, Other Rooms hit the New York Times bestseller list.
If I could live for a day as Truman Capote, I would choose a day after the publication of Breakfast at Tiffany’s in 1958, but before he became obsessed with the murder which formed the basis for his 1966 non-fiction book In Cold Blood.
The day would begin with me lounging in my smoking jacket while I opened my mail, including fan mail, letters of outrage about my sexuality and moral degeneracy, acceptance letters from The Atlantic Monthly, and perhaps The New Yorker or Harper’s Bazaar, and of course, a note from my best friend Harper Lee. After dashing off a few witty and/or scathing letters of my own I’d work on my latest short story or essay until the need for a drink became overwhelming. Then I’d take a long bath and put together a fabulous outfit, including a cravat, or a bow tie if I was in the mood. I’d spend the evening swimming from party to party in a river of martinis, hobnobbing with Hollywood starlets, business tycoons and members of high society and ending the night with my good friend Andy Warhol at Studio 54. Now that’s the life of a writer!
Your turn: Does a day in the life of Truman Capote appeal to you? Who would you choose if you could be a writer for a day?
Kirsten Krauth channels Leonard Cohen because ’damn it, he got cool’
Natasha Lester chose Joan Didion because she ‘made meaning out of her life. She wrote about unique experiences in a way that made them seem commonplace and connective.’
Emma Chapman idealised the lives of writers such as Hemingway before eventually realising ‘that they don’t just sit on the patio with a bottle of whisky and ‘think’, or read whatever they like whenever they feel like it. They write – every day. They work hard.’
Amanda Curtin contemplated a day in the life of Katherine Susannah Prichard because of ‘her commitment, her compassion—and especially her fearlessness.’
Dawn Barker would be Mary Shelley for ‘one wonderful summer that would change her life and propel her into literary history.’
Sara Foster imagines being JK Rowling at the exact moment when she conceived of the story that became Harry Potter.
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