Late-1938, eager to gain some feedback on her work, aspiring young author and Radcliffe sophomore Frances Turnbull sent a copy of her latest story to celebrated novelist and friend of the family, F. Scott Fitzgerald. Before long the feedback arrived, in the form of the somewhat harsh but admirably honest reply seen below.
(Source: F. Scott Fitzgerald: A Life in Letters; Image: F. Scott Fitzgerald,via.)
November 9, 1938
I’ve read the story carefully and, Frances, I’m afraid the price for doing professional work is a good deal higher than you are prepared to pay at present. You’ve got to sell your heart, your strongest reactions, not the little minor things that only touch you lightly, the little experiences that you might tell at dinner. This is especially true when you begin to write, when you have not yet developed the tricks of interesting people on paper, when you have none of the technique which it takes time to learn. When, in short, you have only your emotions to sell.
This is the experience of all writers. It was necessary for Dickens to put into Oliver Twist the child’s passionate resentment at being abused and starved that had haunted his whole childhood. Ernest Hemingway’s first stories “In Our Time” went right down to the bottom of all that he had ever felt and known. In “This Side of Paradise” I wrote about a love affair that was still bleeding as fresh as the skin wound on a haemophile.
The amateur, seeing how the professional having learned all that he’ll ever learn about writing can take a trivial thing such as the most superficial reactions of three uncharacterized girls and make it witty and charming—the amateur thinks he or she can do the same. But the amateur can only realize his ability to transfer his emotions to another person by some such desperate and radical expedient as tearing your first tragic love story out of your heart and putting it on pages for people to see.
That, anyhow, is the price of admission. Whether you are prepared to pay it or, whether it coincides or conflicts with your attitude on what is “nice” is something for you to decide. But literature, even light literature, will accept nothing less from the neophyte. It is one of those professions that wants the “works.” You wouldn’t be interested in a soldier who was only a little brave.
In the light of this, it doesn’t seem worth while to analyze why this story isn’t saleable but I am too fond of you to kid you along about it, as one tends to do at my age. If you ever decide to tell your stories, no one would be more interested than,
Your old friend,
F. Scott Fitzgerald
P.S. I might say that the writing is smooth and agreeable and some of the pages very apt and charming. You have talent—which is the equivalent of a soldier having the right physical qualifications for entering West Point.
Wednesday, 18 August 2010 Dear 8 year-old Teresa In 1988, aged just 8 but already a fan of the teen actor due to Stand By Me, Star Trek: The Next Generation and his ‘awesome smile’, an excited Teresa Juniso saved up the $12.00 membership fee and applied to join ‘WilPower’, then-15-year-old Wil Wheaton’s official fan club. She then waited. And waited some more. And then gave up waiting altogether.
The membership kit never materialised, and before long the initial disappointment was forgotten. In 2009, Teresa Juniso, now a 29 year-old writer, received - along with a package containing the very items she had waited patiently for 21 years previous - the following letter; an incredibly endearing apology and belated welcome to Wheaton’s now defunct fan club, written by Wil Wheaton himself after being alerted to her story.
Said Teresa: He gets a big thank you from Twenty-Nine Year Old Me. Don’t get me wrong. Eight Year Old Me is very, very pleased. But Twenty-Nine Year Old Me better knows the importance of a kind gesture, and hopes that her gratitude carries more weight. Transcript follows. Recommended reading: Wil Wheaton’s Just a Geek.
Source Transcript Dear 8 year-old Teresa, I wanted to apologize to you for making you wait so long to get your official WilPower fanclub membership kit. You see, 15 year-old me is very busy with work and school, and the people who were responsible for getting your membership kit mailed back to you must have made a mistake. It’s been a long time since the fan club did anything, but I’ve enclosed a membership card for you, as well as a wallet photo, and a picture that shows you how much I love Batman (HINT: It’s a lot.)
WilPower members got updates about me and my work a few times a year, but the fan club stopped sending those out a long time ago. My latest update, though, goes like this: I got married, I have two boys who I love more than anything in the world, and I’m a writer now, just like you! And now, 8 year-old Teresa, I want to tell you something very important before I sign off, so listen closely: When you grow up, you’re going to be a great writer. I can’t tell you how I know, but I hope you’ll trust me; I just do. So stay in school, always do your best, and treat people the way you want to be treated.
Thank you for being part of my fan club, (Signed, ‘Wil Wheaton’)
do you know that i have almost everywhere in social media , those are my younger days… but lucky for me they closed friendster.. all my younger days is in there.. :D all the silly and simpleton me :), i wish i still were the young me who was brave and try everything in front (the indonesian says : lu jual apa gw beli) .
Sancte Raphael, diligens exquisitio patroni nostri coniugem, in summa in nobis habitat. Socium nobis inventu, natura reflectitur in similitudine naturae Jesu et Mariae. Utinam sit amet, fide purum, sincerum et bonum, ut communi studio contentiones sanctitate et caritate non potest perficere et nos ambulabimus in anima et corpore, ut in filiis Dei curae futuram committit.
Sancte Raphael angelus sanctus est amor [postea inveniet vitam socio] Benedicite ordine et amore peccandi non sit pars. Adeo ut amor unit nos futura nostra domo Nazarethana domo Sanctae Familiae magis magisque conformatur. Deo preces pro nobis petitis, Deo donante, ut Tobias et Sara miserunt benedictionem matrimonii.
Rafael Sancti tui adulescens, amicus noster, ut semper amico. Nos volo ad involvunt te in nostra kebutuhan2.
Nos committere specialis ductu ad decisiones nos enim futurum vitae socium. Cooperetur ad hoc potissimum nostra exequi Dei voluntate, qua nos in pace, concordia et amor in hac vita et post unum diem pervenire beatitudinem.