Vol. 17 No. 1 1950 - page 24

there was nothing to worry about, I was now a successful author, and
when successful authors ran out of money all they had to do was to
checks. I wasn't poor-they couldn't fool me.
But insofar as this was the first sign of the deadly and losing battle
Fitzgerald was to fight all his life in order to get enough out of debt
to write what he most wanted to instead of what would sell, there is
nothing at all funny about it; and he was appalled by his early dis–
covery that the minute he started a novel, or any piece of work that
took any time, he sank over his ears in debt. Thus on December 31,
1920, he wrote Perkins:
The bank this afternoon refused to lend me anything on the security
of stock I hold-and I have been pacing the floor for an hour trying
to decide what to do. Here, with the novel within two weeks of com–
pletion, am I with six hundred dollars worth of bills and owing Reynolds
$650 for an advance on a story that I'm utterly unable to write. I've
made half a dozen starts yesterday and today and I'll go mad if I have
to do another debutante which is what they want.
I hoped that at last being square with Scribner's I could remain so.
But I'm at my wit's end. Isn't there some way you could regard this as
an advance on the new novel rather than on the Xmas sale [of
Side of Paradise]
which won't be due me till July? And at the same
interest that it costs Scribner's to borrow? Or could you make it a month's
loan from Scribner and Co. with my next ten books as security? I need
When everything proper has been said about Fitzgerald's being in
this mess after making over $18,000 in 1920 and about the transparent
exaggeration that
The Beautiful and Damned
was two weeks from
completion (it was not finished until the following April), this re–
mains a touching letter: it is so obviously frantic and so shocked it–
self by the amount required that once the awful sum is mentioned
it turns tail and runs. Nevertheless, if in the first year of their marriage
they had already begun to live beyond their income to this extent,
Fitzgerald's future attempts to write enough short stories to pay for
the leisure to write a novel were likely to be labors of Sisyphus, as
indeed they turned out to be.
This particular crisis was soon over.
This Side of Paradise
was at
the peak of its sales and Scribner's were glad to make a little ad–
vance against royalties, and the movies came forward to buy two more
stories and to pay $3,000 for an option on Fitzgerald's future output.
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