Write early in the morning not late at night.
I’ve heard it many times that Roy gets up before the sun to get his writing done. I really didn’t think much of it until the other day. I’ve been doing research on a letter, written by Alexandre Dumas, Roy asked me to have translated. This is some interesting stuff, I’ve read the books and I’ve seen the movies. Everybody knows about The Three Musketeers.
The letter was without question difficult to decipher with the stretched out writing. I began sending copies to translators, appraisers, and handwriting experts for their opinion. In the meantime I thought I would look for another letter by Dumas that had already been translated and compare some of the words.
I googled “Alexandre Dumas letters“. I pulled up a note by Dumas, the handwriting was completely different, the signatures didn’t match, not even close. This was disturbing and lead me on a trail to find out more about Alexandre Dumas. I knew the books he’d written but nothing about the man.
The Bad news: Alexandre Dumas died in 1870, the date on the letter was February 20, 1884. Was there another Dumas?
In 1823 Dumas meet a woman by the name of Marie-Laure-Catherine Labay, a dressmaker in Paris. A year later a son was born, his name Alexandre Dumas, fils. or as many scholars refer to him simply as Dumas, fils. It was about this time that I received a email response from Professor Jean-Pierre Cauvin, a French Literature expert at the University of Texas, confirming the revelation that this letter was in fact by Dumas fils (the younger).
Who is this guy? I’ve never heard of him. My search began to find out more about “The Younger” Dumas. My only clue was “98, Avenue de Villiers,” the address printed at the top of the letter. The address brought up an old New York Times article from May 10th 1885. An Hour with M. Dumas. Now I was getting somewhere.
Here’s an excerpt:
“You ask me my methods of work. They are not very hard to describe. As I told you before I always write in the country from 6 o’clock in the morning until 1 o’clock: then lunch. Occasionally it is very rarely that I do this. After lunch I generally take a long walk and do not touch my pen again during the day. Get up at 6 o’clock and write till 1 and you will find you have done a very great deal. Night work, in my opinion, is not only suicidal but fails to please the public. One cannot write clearly at night. I am perfectly convinced that good work can only be accomplished by the light of day. The clearest writers have been those who held this view. Balzae worked by night, and you can feel night in his work. They are not clearly written, and you cannot see through them. I wish I could make you understand exactly what I mean. Morning thoughts are always fresher, the brain is not incumbered and one’s style is less labored. My father, who was one of the clearest writers, would have sooner taken a dose of poison than have written at night. I am always the first up in the house.”
Dumas fils was quite an interesting in his own right. With 25 plays, 2 published novels and 1 Opera, he was a man of his time.
The search continues to find a Dumas scholar that can translate the letter. It’ll be interesting to know what was on Dumas fils’ mind in 1885.
As I finish up, the sunlight peaks through the windows. I know now it’s better to write in the morning. The words flow through my fingers with little effort before the day slows them down.
When do you write your best?