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When I Was Old: Simenon on Simenon by Georges Simenon
April 24, 2023
I'm a fan of the writer's journal. Nothing happens in a writer's life except what's in their head. Georges Simenon is no different. This journal occurred in the early 1960s and ended in the spring of 1963. Simenon is in his late 50s, and often his journal writing deals with aging and his life with the family. What's interesting about him is he's close friends with Charlie Chaplin and Henry Miller (all three lunch or have dinner together) and a friend of Gide and Blaise Cendrars.
As a writer, I'm fascinated with a writer's writing schedule. Simenon wrote hundreds of novels in his lifetime, and when writing "When I Was Old," he was contracted to write six novels a year. How can one possibly do something like that? Also, he had a full family life. A wife, young children, and then occasionally having sex with four women in one night. Which doesn't seem to be that much of a big deal for this busy writer. Still, he suffers from depression and has strong doubts and thoughts about his daily take of alcohol. He is very much the typical Joe, except he can write six novels a year, and most, are pretty good books.
I read John Cheever's journal early this year, similar to Simenon's book. Both are into self-examing their purpose in life and their art. And real life enters the picture with respect to drinking, love, and family. And both were successful writers at the time of their standard journals. I recommend this book to anyone who is writing or having trouble sitting down and getting the work done. Simenon was a very disciplined writer and had his life organized pretty well. That makes him sound dull, but believe me, he's not a dull man.
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