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When you hear writing and literature, you may think of this scene: inspiration in a cottage in the middle of the woods, or a cozy corner surrounded by towers of books. Well, you’re not wrong!
But just like the crazy and imaginative adventures you read about, there are a lot of fun and interesting tidbits about writers and their stories that will change your impression. Here are 29 of those fun and interesting facts about writing and literature!
- 1 1. Honore de Balzac’s blood was coffee.
- 2 2. Charles Bukowski was a sweet tooth.
- 3 3. Voltaire was a romantic writer.
- 4 4. D.H. Lawrence goes commando.
- 5 5. Colette’s cat had a lot of fleas.
- 6 6. John Steinbeck wrote with sharpness.
- 7 7. Aldous Huxley explored a brave new world.
- 8 8. William Faulkner was a night owl.
- 9 9. Libraries organize their shelves with numbers.
- 10 10. Green Eggs and Ham contains precisely 50 words because of a bet.
- 11 11. You can find F. Scott Fitzgerald at the bar.
- 12 12. Agatha Christie spoke her mind.
- 13 13. Stephen King ghostwrote his own novel.
- 14 14. Truman Capote wrote from a different perspective.
- 15 15. Friedrich von Schiller kept rotten apples under his desk.
- 16 16. There’s no stopping Jack Kerouac when he wrote.
- 17 17. Georges Simenon had Alfred Hitchcock on hold.
- 18 18. Beatrix Potter kept on hopping forward.
- 19 19. A book was burned for Fahrenheit 451.
- 20 20. There’s a grim side to fairy tales.
- 21 21. China banned talking animals in wonderland.
- 22 22. Ernest Vincent Wright played a little game in his novel.
- 23 23. Antoine de Saint-Exupery was stranded in a desert.
- 24 24. Hart Crane wrote during parties.
- 25 25. Len Deighton was the first to write on a word processor.
- 26 26. George R.R. Martin is from the dinosaur-age.
- 27 27. Victor Hugo understood texting.
- 28 28. There were no young adults before World War II.
- 29 29. Remember the 9th of August.
- 30 Join the Commaful Storytelling Community
1. Honore de Balzac’s blood was coffee.
The French novelist and playlist started his writing days by drinking at least 50 cups of coffee. He may have become a founding figure in European literature but it’s caffeine poisoning that ended his days.
2. Charles Bukowski was a sweet tooth.
Mostly, it was out of survival. Bukowski had difficulty looking for work and settled on one candy bar with peanuts and caramel a day. It only cost him a nickel.
3. Voltaire was a romantic writer.
By that we mean, the French Enlightenment author and activist had used his lover’s bare back as a writing desk. Now you know what’s really on his mind.
4. D.H. Lawrence goes commando.
5. Colette’s cat had a lot of fleas.
And that’s how the French author and scholar began her writing days, combing through her feline’s fur. It must have been calming for a creative mind that’s eager for writing literature.
6. John Steinbeck wrote with sharpness.
The Grapes of Wrath author sharpened 24 pencils before writing. He wrote with them until all 24 were dull before sharpening them again. Often, Steinbeck would reach up to 100 pencils every day. For East of Eden, he wrote with 300!
7. Aldous Huxley explored a brave new world.
Having failed in Hollywood, the English writer, now famous for A Brave New World, experimented with psychedelics. Writing literature was heavily laced with LSD and mescaline that he had asked his wife for a dose on his deathbed.
8. William Faulkner was a night owl.
Ideas would come to the Nobel Prize laureate late at night, while he wrote with his favorite companion, a bottle of Jack Daniels. He also completed the draft for As I Lay Dying within 48 hours inside a power plant because of the quiet hours of his shift from midnight to 4 AM.
9. Libraries organize their shelves with numbers.
With the number of aesthetic libraries all over the world, you would think that librarians have secret powers to know which book is where. They sort-of do, with the Dewey Decimal System. This has been in place since 1876 where each piece of literature is labeled by their subject matter and title. It’s used in more than a hundred countries and has helped millions of readers.
10. Green Eggs and Ham contains precisely 50 words because of a bet.
Dr. Seuss bet his publisher $50 that he can write a book with 50 or fewer words. Needless to say, he won.
11. You can find F. Scott Fitzgerald at the bar.
Despite being a lightweight, The Great Gatsby author loved his cocktails. Especially gin, which he believes was difficult to detect on his breath. The liquor makes up his favorite and highly recommended drinks: The Bailey and The Gin Rickey.
12. Agatha Christie spoke her mind.
13. Stephen King ghostwrote his own novel.
The ’80s was a dark period of alcohol and drugs for the horror writer that he actually remembers nothing about writing one of his works, Cujo. King was barely present at that time.
14. Truman Capote wrote from a different perspective.
The author of Breakfast at Tiffany’s prides in writing literature while lying down. He even went as far as declaring himself a “completely horizontal writer” while holding a glass of sherry in one hand.
15. Friedrich von Schiller kept rotten apples under his desk.
When he needs writing inspiration, the German poet would lift the lid to smell the scent of decay. It may sound bizarre but years later, researchers discovered that the fragrance of spiced apple gives off an elevating effect. Clearly, it had brought von Schiller to new heights of writing literature.
16. There’s no stopping Jack Kerouac when he wrote.
In the creation of the second draft of his novel, On The Road, the poet taped his words together on architect paper that became a total of 120 feet long. Now that’s what we call, keeping the momentum going!
17. Georges Simenon had Alfred Hitchcock on hold.
When Hitchcock called the Belgian novelist and was told he was in the middle of writing, the director preferred to wait and “let him finish”. Simenon is known to both write very well and very fast.
18. Beatrix Potter kept on hopping forward.
Her most famous title, Peter Rabbit, was rejected by six different publishers. Determined, she instead self-published her book and distributed 250 copies to friends and family. That includes Sir Arthur Conan Doyle who proceeded to buy more. Potter printed more and more copies until she, at last, signed with a traditional publisher.
19. A book was burned for Fahrenheit 451.
The original title of the famous dystopian novel was boring, according to author Ray Bradbury. So he consulted a local fire station about the exact temperature for a paper to burn. To be accurate, a fireman set a book alight.
20. There’s a grim side to fairy tales.
We’re very much used to the bright and happy endings of the Disney fairytale remakes. Their original writers, however, were the Grimm Brothers. And true to their name, these are stories that are far from magical. Cinderella’s stepsisters cut off their toes to fit the glass slipper. Rapunzel’s prince dies from being thrown off the tower. The Evil Queen was forced to dance on hot iron shoes until death to the pleasure of Snow White.
21. China banned talking animals in wonderland.
The fantasy novel, Alice in Wonderland, is generally controversial because of its themes of drug use. But China banned the book for an entirely different reason: its talking animals. They believe that animals and humans shouldn’t be placed on the same level, which includes the former speaking human language.
22. Ernest Vincent Wright played a little game in his novel.
It’s called lipogram, where the author excludes a common letter of the alphabet in his work. Wright had chosen the “E” which is one of the more difficult letter choices. So, in Gadsby, there’s not a single word that begins with the letter “E”.
23. Antoine de Saint-Exupery was stranded in a desert.
That’s where the primary inspiration for the well-loved and world-famous The Little Prince came from. The author was an actual pilot and an unfortunate incident led him to wait alone in a desert to be rescued. His experiences and hallucinations fueled the stories in The Little Prince.
24. Hart Crane wrote during parties.
A natural party animal, the American poet would host and entertain large gatherings. Somewhere in the merry chaos, Crane would stumble on inspiration and disappear to his typewriter. Of course, he would still return to the party but this time, waving his manuscripts around.
25. Len Deighton was the first to write on a word processor.
Today, we have computers and programs. Back then, the English author (and everybody else) was forced to “construct” their books with a typewriter, scissors, and paste. That is until Deighton was approached by an IBM technician who let him use their special machine to write his novel Bomber.
26. George R.R. Martin is from the dinosaur-age.
The world-renowned Game of Thrones author admits to still using an obsolete word processor when writing. Martin hates the spellcheck of modern programs, especially as a high-fantasy writer. He uses disk operating systems (AKA no internet) that were popular in the late 1980s to the early 1990s. But he still has an updated computer for other, worldly things.
27. Victor Hugo understood texting.
The French novelist was off on vacation when Les Miserables was published. He sent a telegram to his publishers that contained a single question mark to ask how his novel was doing. In response, he received a letter with an exclamation point. Success!
28. There were no young adults before World War II.
Teens, particularly the age range of 12-18, were not considered as a social demographic for literature in the past. It was only in the 1960s through the Young Adult Library Services Association that a “Young Adult” market was created and recognized. Now, it has become a well-established section of fiction literature.
29. Remember the 9th of August.
If you’re dreaming of that peaceful cottage to write in or that library to read from, then surely you’re one of the many lovers of writing and literature. August 9 is declared the Book Lovers Day! It’s a fun and interesting day to celebrate the written word.
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