"I never look at the papers again. My secretary types them out and my husband edits them. I never had anything more to do with a book until it is published . . . . I cannot stand to read over anything I write. My husband takes care of everything for me except the first draft. He works in the other half of the house."
1892 - 1973
I am fascinated by the work habits of writers and artists. Each one is unique and different and brings a special insight to the creative process. We all find ways to draw on the creative spirit when we need it.
Pearl Buck was American born, but raised in poverty-stricken rural China by missionary parents and her Chinese nanny. Her father, Absalom, was always traveling, attempting to convert the Chinese with little success. He had ten converts in ten years. Her mother, Carie, buried most of her children in China and filled Pearl's heart with stories of America. Her nanny, Wang Amah, filled her mind with tales of demons, dragons and spirits. Educated in an American college, Buck returned to China with her husband, John Lossing Buck, only to be abandon for months at a time by her traveling husband, much like her mother was. Both her father and her husband were obsessed with work. Her father wanted to spread the word of God and her husband was passionate about Chinese farming.
Pearl Buck began writing at age 35. Always a storyteller, Buck's most famous second novel, The Good Earth, was published in 1931 when she was 39 and she was honored with a Pulitzer Prize. In 1938 she became the first American woman to receive the Nobel Prize for literature. She published 38 novels, 16 collections of short stories, and 11 works of non-fiction between 1930 - 1974, sometimes as many as two books a year.
Hilary Spurling, in her biography, Pearl Buck in China, says: She spent every morning at her desk, emerging exhausted, dazed, and stupefied from these sessions with what she called her book people, or sometimes her real people. She wrote longhand without revision or correction, seldom pausing, covering page after page at phenomenal speed in a small compact script, producing on average 2,500 words at a sitting." She gave her manuscript to her second husband and publisher, Richard Walsh, who edited them for publication.
Every creative leader has different work habits. What are yours?