Why you’ve never read a Reeves McCullers novel

“[Carson] McCullers’ first novel was written thanks to a pact with her husband, Reeves, whom she married in 1937. The newlyweds — she was 20, he 24 — both aspired to be writers, so they struck a deal: One of them would work full-time and earn a living for the couple while the other wrote; after a year, they would switch roles. Since Carson already had a manuscript in progress, and Reeves had lined up a salaried position in Charlotte, North Carolina, she began her literary endeavors first.

“She wrote every day, sometimes escaping their drafty apartment to work in the local library, taking sips from the Thermos full of sherry that she would sneak inside…..

“After a year, Carson had landed a contract for her novel, so Reeves continued to put his own literary aspirations on hold…. Despite the pact, he would never get to try his luck as the full-time writer in their marriage. When Carson’s first novel,’The Heart is a Lonely Hunter,’ was published in 1940, it vaulted her into the literary limelight; after that, there was never any question of her sacrificing her writing for a day job….”

– From “Daily Rituals: How Artists Work,” edited by Mason Currey (2013)