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Lucy McGillicuddy Ricardo Writes a Novel


Lucy McGillicuddy Ricardo Writes a Novel

“I Love Lucy” is still perhaps the best-known television show since it first aired back in 1951. Unlike most TV programs that have come and gone, this show has not left the small screen since its debut. Generations have laughed at Lucy’s crazy hair-brained schemes, have done their best impression of the Ricky Ricardo bellowing laugh, and wonder how Lucy ever got through life.

While I still love such episodes as “Lucy Does a TV Commercial,” (can you say Vitameatavegamin?) and “Job Switching” where Lucy and Ethel get a job working in a candy factory and clearly cannot keep up with the conveyor belt as chocolate candy whizzes by them; my favorite is “Lucy Writes a Novel,” which aired in April 1954.

After reading a newspaper article in which a housewife got $10,000 (2017 value $90,000) for writing a novel, Lucy gets busy at her typewriter as Ethel walks in. She asks Lucy what she’s up to. When Lucy replies that she’s writing a novel, Ethel completely freezes and says, “You’re writing a novel?”

“Yes,” Lucy answers.

“How do you plan on doing that?”

“It’s simple. I just write about things I know.”

Ethel quipped, “It won’t be a novel, it’ll be a short story.”

Lucy is correct about writing what you know, but it is also important to write about what you feel. With today’s technology, you can research and write about anything you want.

She also has the right idea of including Ethel, Fred, and Ricky in her book (because she knows them), but only changes their names just slightly. It has always been a practice of writing about people you know, but changing their names completely, using an alternate locations and settings for your story, and modifying their appearance as well. Lucy did not do a great job of adjusting their identities as she for one, only changed a single letter in their names; Ricky Ricardo became Nicky Nicardo, and Fred and Ethel Mertz morphed into Fred and Ethel Nertz; secondly while she greatly exaggerated their backgrounds and life stories, they still knew the story was about them.

The three of them decided they did not approve of Lucy’s novel and threw it into a fire. Fred later mention that her novel, titled “Real Gone with the Wind,” was “red hot.”

But they were too late, Lucy already mailed a copy to a publisher. Then, like most writers, she anxiously waited for her mail to be delivered in hopes of a nice publishing contract and a huge advance. Well, that’s what happened. She received a letter from the publisher along with a check for $100.

Of course, Lucy got excited and began to think of how her new career would skyrocket her to fame. She begins to write what she believes will be the all-time sequel to her debut novel. Yet that fantasy came crashing down pretty fast when Fred, Ethel, and Ricky decided to sue her for liable. She offers to cut them in, but only Fred agrees. Then there’s a knock at the door.

It’s her publisher. Although it’s highly unlikely that a publisher will pay you a visit, this is TV. Anyhow, he proceeds to share with Lucy that his secretary made an awful mistake and got her manuscript mixed up with another submission. He apologizes and tells Lucy that she should have received that all so common standard rejection letter – “it isn’t what we’re looking for at this time.”

Lucy is now over acting about how her life is over and how fame will never reach her, when the phone rings. It’s another publisher inquiring about her novel. Once again Lucy’s hopes are high. She agrees to meet with the publisher until he asks “did the other publisher tell you why I’m calling?”

“No, he didn’t.”

“Well, I’m working on a textbook on how to write a novel and want to use part of your story.”

Lucy quickly relays this to Ethel, Fred, and Ricky.

“It will be used for the chapter titled, ‘Don’t Let This Happen To You.”

At this point, Lucy gives up on writing all together and her laughter turns to tears.

In the writing world, there will be rejection. Stephen King, J. K. Rowling, and a host of other well-known writers have all received rejection notices and letters. It comes with the territory. Best solution for dealing with this is to just keep writing!


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