Thursday, March 3, 2016

Classics Challenge: F. Scott Fitzgerald

"Nothing is as obnoxious as other people's luck." ~ F. Scott Fitzgerald

Our first male author in the Classics Challenge--and full-blooded American! The "F" stands for Francis, in case you were wondering.

Mr. Fitzgerald loved writing. So much so that he neglected his studies at Princeton University and focused on literary pursuits. All too aware that he wouldn't graduate due to failing grades, Mr. Fitzgerald ditched school for the army and WWI. The belief that he would die on the field compelled Mr. Fitzgerald to write his first novel: The Romantic Egotist. 

In the end, Mr. Fitzgerald never even left home. The war ended, and he was discharged before being sent overseas.

Now Mr. Fitzgerald abandoned the "sword" for the "pen" and his lifelong writing career began.

Though he had commercial success with his novels and short stories, critics didn't take him seriously. His reputation as an alcoholic painted him as an "irresponsible writer"--despite the fact that he wrote sober. Which is an interesting twist of things, considering his close friendship with Ernest Hemingway ("Write drunk, edit sober" cough cough).

After writing his third novel, the famous The Great Gastby, Mr. Fitzgerald's life collapsed. His alcoholism grew worse and his wife, Zelda, was in and out of mental institutions. In the end, Mr. Fitzgerald died of heart failure in the apartment of his "girlfriend" (while still married to Zelda). The Love of the Last Tycoon, a work in progress at the time, was never finished.

Writerly Things to Learn from F. Scott Fitzgerald:

1. Don't give up just because you were rejected the first AND second time. Mr. Fitzgerald's The Romantic Egotist went through massive editing after a publisher rejected it twice. It went on to garner acclaim, published as The Side of Paradise.

2. Keep your nasty habits in check. In a world of social media, we are even more "out in the open" than in Mr. Fitzgerald's day. Remember to always keep your writerly persona professional; you never know what could make the difference in your success.

3. If you want to write, you have to make sacrifices for it. Mr. Fitzgerald pursued the literary world with all he had (much to the chagrin of his Princeton professors, I'm sure). After the success of The Side of Paradise, he quit his job to devote even more time to the craft. Devote time to your story.

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