Wednesday, August 19, 2015

The Grace Metalious Bobblehead

Is it wrong to give yourself an award? 
    I hope not. Because I have just awarded myself with what I like to call the Grace Metalious You Can Do It! Award.
    I'm pretty sure that people give themselves awards all the time. For example, the I Can't Believe I Made it Through This Awful Day Without Slapping Anyone Award. Or the My Manuscript Is Finished and It Didn't Kill Me Award. Or the My Book Is Finally Published and I Deserve a Prize Award. 
    I awarded the attractive bobblehead pictured here to its worthy recipient (ME) for finally finishing the thriller I've been working on for years in between other books: The Dollhouse in the Crawlspace. It is now available as an ebook and will soon be available as a trade paperback.
Grace Metalious Bobblehead.

    My major award, the Grace Metalious "Pandora in Blue Jeans” Bobblehead, is available through the New Hampshire Historical Society. This is deliciously ironic: Grace still embarrasses some people in her home state because of the scandalous notoriety of her bestseller, Peyton Place. According to the Historical Society, the pose is taken from a photo of the writer at her typewriter.

    Why the Grace M. Bobblehead? Because it’s funny. Just look at the picture. It makes me laugh. Grace's head bobbles thoughtfully every time she has an inspiration, staring intently at her empty typewriter. And by the time I finish a book, my head has bobbled a thousand times. Sometimes it bobbles right down onto my keyboard.

   Why Grace Metalious, the author of Peyton Place? Because she was pretty much the writer who would be voted Least Likely to Succeed. And yet she did. The odds were stacked against her. She was a housewife and a mother who came from poverty and obscurity, but she was driven to write. She succeeded beyond her wildest dreams. Granted, those dreams turned into nightmares and she essentially drank herself to death at a young age. But before all that, she made the improbable happen. She emerged from nowhere and wrote a bestseller that rocked the established literary order.
   I first glimpsed parts of Peyton Place in an old and tattered paperback copy during my high school babysitting jobs. (My gigs weren't stocked with libraries full of impressive leather-bound volumes.) But when I later saw the movie version of Peyton Place, what struck me most was its depiction of women. Women who worked hard, who were passionate and ambitious, and who did what they had to do to survive in their superficially buttoned-down (but secretly sordid) small town. Just like Grace M., who was said to lock herself in the bathroom to find the time and space (and peace and quiet) to write.
   You can do it. These words have been my mantra for years. I had to say them to myself, because I wasn't hearing it from the peanut gallery. Walking to the Metro Station on my way to work, exhausted, one foot in front of another: You can do it. While holding a full-time job and writing at night: You can do it. Stopping after work at the library or bookstore or coffee shop to write because if I went home, I'd go to sleep: You can do it. 
   So I'm either a fool or I deserve this award. Maybe both.
   Now, as the proud winner of the first Grace Metalious You Can Do It Award, I have another Grace M. bobblehead waiting in reserve, to award to some other deserving writer who might need a word or two (or a nod of the head) of encouragement. How about you? Any awards you've given yourself? Or wish someone else would? I'd love to hear about it.


  1. What a wonderful idea, Ellen! I love your "You can do it" mantra. It's served you well and you have a terrific body of work to show for it including your new thriller. Congrats. And now, I think I may have to go watch Peyton Place. :)

  2. Thanks so much, Rosemary. Peyton Place the movie is a hoot. The only think I don't like is that it is supposed to begin before WWII but all the clothes are from the 50s so it's a bit jarring. However, I love Camden, Maine, where it was filmed and love how the women are portrayed as so strong.