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  • Writer's pictureDanielle Hayden

Sam Shepard (1943-2017)

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I knew of Sam Shepard as an actor. It was only recently that I learned that he was also a talented writer in his own right. I was listening to another author speak and she mentioned how he had dictated his final novel into a tape recorder as he was deteriorating from ALS. And I learned only today that he later dictated to people around him.

I can't imagine the level of dedication to a project that would give me the willpower to carry out such a task. It is amazing. He is not the only person to ever do this, but it's pretty incredible. Tragic though, for multiple reasons. Quoted below from this article:

"According to his longtime editor, LuAnn Walther, Shepard began work on the book in 2016, despite the physical limitations brought on by ALS. No longer able to use a typewriter, Shepard wrote his first drafts by hand. When handwriting became impossible, he used a tape recorder to record sections of the book. The recordings were transcribed by his sisters and daughter, who then printed the pages for him to read.

He spoke his edits, which were then incorporated back into the text. When recording became too difficult, Shepard dictated the rest of the story.

His friend, Patti Smith, worked with him during the final months of his life, to edit and arrange the pieces into a final manuscript.

Shepard read through the entire project with his daughter on July 20 and gave her his final edits, a week before he died."

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