A Novel Way to Write
You could de nitely call him proli c. Author Sidney Sheldon sold his first poem when he was 10 and two screenplays at 18; by the time he was 25, he had three shows running on Broadway simultaneously. But ction is Sheldon's forte. He's published nine novels, the most famous of which is his 1974 best-seller, The Other Side of Midnight, and this month Morrow will publish a sequel, Memories of Midnight. How does Sheldon write so much? Well, for starters, he doesn't type or even scrawl away on legal pads. He just spins a tale. ''I dictate to a secretary, up to 50 pages a day-about 150 words a minute,'' he says. ''When I start I have no idea how things will end. I just start with a character, and as I dictate, the story comes to life.'' When he's nished talking, one of his secretaries types up the voluminous rst draft, which can top 1,500 pages. ''I tear it apart, tighten, polish, throw away a hundred pages at a time and then it gets retyped and I start all over again at page one,'' Sheldon says. It takes him up to a dozen such drafts, and a year to a year and a half, to get a book in shape, with the considerable help of his three secretaries: ''I have one at each of my houses London, Palm Springs, and Los Angeles,'' he says. ''They're all excellent stenographers.''
Next May HarperCollins will publish Marianne Wiggins' new short story collection-more than a year behind schedule. ''History intervened,'' Wiggins explains simply. She is referring, of course, to the death threat issued by the Ayatollah Khomeini that forced her husband, Salman Rushdie, into hiding and wreaked turmoil on her own life. ''The stories were called Learning Urdu, because Urdu was Salman's native language, and I had learned so much about the Third World through him...I was using language as a metaphor for learning about other states of being.'' But, Wiggins says, ''I could no longer write that book because so much has changed.'' The much-altered collection, minus its original title story, is now called Bet They'll Miss Us When We're Gone. ''My daughter tells me it sounds like the title of a Beatles song, but all the stories are about loss loss of life, of health, of love, even the loss of one's mind.'' Wiggins is already at work researching her next project, a novel about the framers of the Constitution and the writing of the Bill of Rights. ''I'm having a deep problem nding women who were an important part of this process,'' she admits. ''So I'm making them up.''