ON WRITING

“It’s very easy to quit during the first ten years of writing. Nobody cares whether you write or not, and it’s very hard to write when nobody cares one way or the other. You can’t get fired if you don’t write, and most of the time you don’t get rewarded if you do. But don’t quit.” Andre Dubus

Tuesday, 1 June 2010

A Desperate Housewife

No, not me! I'm never happier than when I'm cleaning, cooking, and choking on my words...but...in response to Talli Roland's post today about writers writing for love (or was that cupbakes?) not money, (as there's precious little on offer,) I came across this...

I've just been reading about Grace Metalious, the author of the slutty Peyton Place, and found some inspiration in her motivation. Grace was a 32 year old stay-at-home mother of three. She was truly a desperate housewife and sat down to pen Peyton Place hoping it would lift her out of the 'cage of poverty and mediocrity' where she felt trapped. She was driven and passionate, neglected her 'wifely duties' to write ten hours a day. The dishes piled up in the sink and dust accumulated throughout her ramshackle home, hmm, there might be a link here! Independent and single-minded, she was certainly not typical of women of her day.


In her book, Grace lifted the lid off the box of repressive 1950's society and there was no putting it back on. A controversial figure, she became an instant celebrity, both applauded and reviled. Fan letters from some, brickbats from others.

Sadly, the pressure of fame bacame too much and she turned to alcohol, lost her fortune, then her life, all before her fortieth birthday.

Whatever we think of Peyton Place and Grace's life, it is an undeniable fact that it took tremendous courage for a wife and mother in the 1950s to write and publish (after about five rejections) a bombshell of a book like Peyton Place. It became an Academy Award nominated film, a sequel, and a wildly-popular television series which paved the way for Dallas, Twin Peaks and yes, Desperate Housewives where Wisteria Lane is truly an extension of Elm Street and Maple, the thoroughfare that criss-crossed the town of Peyton Place.


When asked in an interview if she thought her creation would be remembered, Grace replied, 'I doubt it very much.'  Last I heard, Sandra Bullock was planning a major motion picture based on Metalious' biography. So, Talli, Grace got more than cupcakes!

See what can happen if you write for ten hours a day, every day! Are we up for it?


12 comments:

  1. Admire her tenacity! Shame she didn't live to see what her creation became.

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  2. Seems like that always happens to great authors. Too bad.

    If I wrote for ten hours a day, it would all turn into crap!

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  3. Wow - what a great story. You have to admire a person with such a strong spirit.

    Thanks for linking to my post, by my way. :)

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  4. L. Diane Wolfe, yes isn't it sad that she didn't really enjoy the good things her tenacity and talent brought.

    Aubrie, yes, ten hours a day would be an ask. She must have been so focussed.

    Talli, I really enjoyed reading your post. Happy to link. I just hope Sandra Bullock goes ahead with her movie...

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  5. When I wrote 'A Love That Makes Life Drunk', I was 3 stone over weight after having my first baby, my husband landed the job of his dreams and buggered off for most of the week, I had no job and felt pretty damned rank - the result was a frank, charming and sexually explicit gentleman called Jefferson - it was totally liberating! Great post, and thanks for dropping by the blog and following, Karen x

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  6. Hi Karen. A great real-life story. Talk about writing what you know. I must find that book!

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  7. Hey! Thanks so much for the follow :)

    This is a very interesting post. I must admire her dedication to her craft. I wish I had that level of tenacity and discipline. However, I don't want the early death results! What a shame!

    Cheers,
    Jen

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  8. Very inspiring, and a fitting post title

    Great post! Just the push I need

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  9. I only wish she hadn't lost everything. It would have been a true story of triumph.

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  10. Jen and Marjorie: I wish her story had ended on a more triumphant note.

    Culture Served Raw: If this story has inspired you, that's wonderful.

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  11. I didn't know the back story on Peyton Place. Great stuff!

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  12. Interesting isn't it! Thanks for the comment and the follow...:)

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