At the PEN America blog, David Haglund digs up a curious George Plimpton anecdote involving John Steinbeck, Marianne Moore...and Jean Seberg.
"Many years ago, I met John Steinbeck at a party in Sag Harbor, and told him that I had writer’s block. And he said something which I’ve always remembered, and which works. He said, 'Pretend that you’re writing not to your editor or to an audience or to a readership, but to someone close, like your sister, or your mother, or someone that you like.' And at the time I was enamored of Jean Seberg, the actress, and I had to write an article about taking Marianne Moore to a baseball game, and I started it off, 'Dear Jean...,' and wrote this piece with some ease, I must say. And to my astonishment that’s the way it appeared in Harper’s Magazine. 'Dear Jean...' Which surprised her, I think, and me, and very likely Marianne Moore."
Read the full entry here: http://penamerica.blogspot.com/2007/09/george-plimpton-meets-john-steinbeck.html
(There's also a photo of the Harper's article in question.)
Ed Park is the author of the novel Personal Days (Random House, 2008) and a founding editor of The Believer. His work most recently appears in Bound to Last: 30 Writers on Their Most Cherished Book (Da Capo). He blogs at The Dizzies.