This past Friday one of my favorite novels turned 90. Yep, The Great Gatsby is getting up there, but to this day, despite its age, it’s not hobbling along with a cane, but striding with full force into the minds of readers (and viewers) everywhere. From the pages of the book, to a ballet and opera production, to numerous film adaptations, to the intimacies of the stage, and finally through the air waves, The Great Gatsby is a story that has withstood the test of time. However, just like Gatsby himself in the story, the tale of the novel itself is one of rags to riches; a true representation of achieving the American Dream
In Fitzgerald’s own words in regards to first crafting the story, he wanted to create “something new—something extraordinary and beautiful and simple and intricately patterned” and so he did, but The Great Gatsby sold only 20,000 copies when first published in 1925 and Fitzgerald died in 1940, believing himself to be a failure.
Tracing the evolution of the story of The Great Gatsby will reveal a tale fraught with inspiration, determination, success, failure, despair, and success again. It’s encompasses the ways of achieving that American Dream that the novel is known to allude to, but I believe it also encompasses what I see as the “Writer’s Dream.”
Probably anyone reading this blog wants to be a writer, is a writer, or likes to read about writing (or maybe you’re just passing through). But we have to recognize that, either way, when we (and this goes for anyone) start writing – whether it be a scratch, scribble, script, or paragraph – we start on a blank page with only that one stroke of inspiration for our words, while the rest is up to chance for these words to actually see success. And if they don’t? If these words don’t see success, what do we do? We deem ourselves as a failure, just as Fitzgerald did.
Stories will see success or they won’t and it can be in either this lifetime or another. Just like with F. Scott Fitzgerald and The Great Gatsby, we have absolutely know telling where our story is going to lead our own life-story, but you have to start somewhere, and that somewhere is with a blank page.