Donald Barthelme … the wastebasket writer

Donald Barthelme … the wastebasket writer


Donald Barthelme (1931-1989) was an American short story writer and novelist known for his playful, postmoderniststyle of short fiction.


During the 1960s he lived with his wife in a one-storey house with a screened-in porch which he used as an office. He spent his mornings at a manual Remington typewriter from 8am until noon. He smoked constantly while he worked and ended each session by emptying his ashtray in the kitchen. While working at his typewriter he read each new sentence or phrase aloud to himself. If something didn’t sound right, he would pull out the entire page and throw it in the wastepaper basket. By the end of the morning the basket would contain 30-40 pieces of discarded paper. When he got stuck he would go out for a walk. He didn’t rush his writing. Some days he would end up with one or two complete pages. Other days, just a sentence or even nothing at all. He kept to a similar schedule for the rest of his life.


Written source: Daily Rituals (Mason Currey)

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