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Dear Alexander Dumas,

What is the source of your creativity?


Andrew Mayne

Dear Andrew,

In early adolescence I burned with desire to write. I wrote everything, I was a living dictionary, I am still as hungry as then but I learned to put my inspiration aside until the right moment.

Today the sun is setting on the great writers of our time. It is no longer enough to write just for the glory of it. If we write we must produce something that will amuse, be comforting, educate, bring people together, set people thinking. Nowadays it is not books that sell but plays, novels are outmoded, they are like rose bushes in a sunflower field.

I have found that if we write a book with a message we are ahead of our time, like the man who invented the wheel. I want to tell you how I write. I think out what I am going to write, and write it, and then rewrite it, then put it away for years, revise it and sometimes add a little, and then the devil takes it from my hands, puts his seal upon it, passes it on to the bookbinder, and it is ready to go. As for inspiration, it is a capital but I know how to invest it. I sit down at the table, drink my glass of wine, and say to myself "Let us get to work." There is no inspiration without perspiration.

Very truly yours,

Alexander Dumas

P.S. When I was a child my father told me if I wanted to write I must read every day like a printer to whom a good hand is everything. Books open the soul and if you lose that you will end up in a jumble sale. Don’t follow fads, just be yourself and only work on that which you want to do. I am happy because I have always done just that.