by Linsey Lanier
The other week, hubby and I watched a biography on Georgia Public television of Margaret Mitchell (author of Gone Withthe Wind, as everyone knows).
Margaret Mitchell led an interesting life and was just as feisty as the famous heroine she created. After attending Smith College, instead of becoming a carefree Southern Belle, a lady of leisure, as everyone expected her to do, she went to work as a newspaper reporter for the Atlanta Journal (the paper which later merged with the Atlanta Constitution to become the Atlanta Journal-Constitution).
Her mother was a suffragette and she wrote about women’s issues of her day. Her articles raised some eyebrows. But what caught my attention was that she’d “never touched” a typewriter before she became a reporter. She couldn’t type a lick. She lied in the interview and said she was a “speed demon on a Remington” to get the job.
So how do you produce a slew of newspaper articles on a regular basis if you can’t type? Did she teach herself in her spare time? Or did she just get very good at the hunt-and-peck method?
Later, after Mitchell quit the newspaper job, she wrote her famous tome Gone With the Wind. The bio depicted her typing away, working on the manuscript. She wrote the first draft in three years, then spent the next several years editing and rewriting. Her husband, John Marsh, was her editor (how cool).
So now my question is – was Gone With the Wind written with the hunt-and-peck method of typing? The idea makes me cringe. The first edition was 1,037 pages and Mitchell must have done countless edits. It’s hard enough for me to imagine any writer banging away at one of those old typewriters without the benefit of today’s word processing programs. (Shudder!) But hunt-and-peck? Fiddle-de-dee!
If that’s the case, I’d say that’s why Margaret Mitchell never wrote another novel. What do you think?