Günter Grass on writing

Spiegel has a good interview with Günter Grass on his upcoming book – which sounds great – and gets his thoughts on a number of other topics. This one, for example, on writing:

Grass: I would like to put a stop to this movement toward reading on computers, but it seems that nobody can do this. Nevertheless, the drawbacks of the electronic process are already apparent during the writing of the manuscript. Most young authors write directly on their computers, and then edit and work in their files. In my case, on the other hand, there are many preliminary steps: a handwritten version, two that I’ve typed myself on my Olivetti typewriter and, finally, several copies of versions that my secretary has input into the computer and printed out, and into which I’ve incorporated many handwritten corrections. These steps are lost when you write directly on the computer.

SPIEGEL: Don’t you feel old-fashioned with your Olivetti?

Grass: No. On the computer, a text always looks somehow finished, even if it’s far from it. That’s tempting. I usually write the first, handwritten version all at once, and when there’s something I don’t like I leave a blank space. I fill these gaps in the Olivetti version, and because of that thoroughness, the text also acquires a certain long-windedness. In the ensuing versions, I try to combine the originality of the first version with the accuracy of the second one. With this slow approach, there’s less of a risk of slickness and arbitrariness creeping in.

The interview is worth a read and can be found here: SPIEGEL Interview with Günter Grass: ‘The Nobel Prize Doesn’t Inhibit Me in My Writing’ – SPIEGEL ONLINE – News – International

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