About “Don’t Call Me Sugar!” or Why GWTW Wouldn’t be Published Today

I was looking around for quotes that might provide some insight into my background and goals in starting this blog, and I returned to an old favorite of mine, Gone With the Wind. I know that the book has faded from the public eye, because of the painful issue of slavery and the famous “rape” scene where Rhett carries Scarlett up the stairs. Frankly, my dear, I don’t care.  The book remains one of my favorite of all times. (And for those not aware of the differences between the book and the movie, there are many, one being that the word Frankly is not in the book.  The line is “My dear, I don’t give a damn.”)

“Don’t Call Me Sugar” is directly from Scarlett herself.  She made it through the Civil War and started a lumber business in a time when there were few women of business.  While sexism has decreased in the workplace, after twenty years of working I still find myself on the receiving end of that condescending tone. My goal as a writer is to create heroines who are strong and independent women, and to help them find their match–someone strong enough to not be intimidated by her intelligence or ambition.

From Wikipedia:

Margaret Mitchell began writing Gone with the Wind in 1926 to pass the time while recovering from an auto-crash injury that refused to heal.[1] In April 1935, Harold Latham of Macmillan, an editor who was looking for new fiction, read what she had written and saw that it could be a best-seller. After Latham agreed to publish the book, Mitchell worked for another six months checking the historical references, and rewrote the opening chapter several times.[2] Mitchell and her husband John Marsh, a copy editor by trade, edited the final version of the novel. Mitchell wrote the book’s final moments first, and then wrote the events that lead up to it.[3] As to what became of her star-crossed lovers, Rhett and Scarlett, after the novel ended, Mitchell did not know, and said, “For all I know, Rhett may have found someone else who was less difficult.”[1]Gone with the Wind is the only novel by Mitchell published during her lifetime.[4]

In one article I read a long time ago, the story is that Margaret Mitchell gave her book to Harold Latham in eleven battered boxes, with scraps of paper everywhere.  If she were searching for a publisher today, this is what she would hear:

  • It’s too long. Cut it in half.
  • No one wants to read about history.
  • You can’t kill Bonnie Blue.  It’s too much of a downer.
  • Why isn’t there a happy ending? You have to end with them together.
  • Last but not least, lose those other husbands. The book should focus on the hero and heroine only.

You know I’m right.

The purpose of this blog is to share ideas and thoughts about writing, publishing, and everything in between.  Please feel free to leave comments.

Happy reading!

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