Writers are an intriguing bunch. Writers are clever and witty and critical and drunk and insightful and crazy and creative and compassionate and beautiful. Writers also might be a little more self-involved than non-creative people, and sometimes this self-involvement makes writers very foolish. Read on for some hilarious and embarrassing ooopsies:
While on a cruise in 1941, Sherwood Anderson relaxed with a martini, ate the olive, and proceeded to chew on the toothpick. Too bad the toothpick didn’t like that much–Anderson swallowed it, the toothpick punctured his colon, and he died of peritonitis.
In 1626, Francis Bacon thought of the brilliant idea to preserve meat with snow. He spent too much time studying this phenomenon and failed to realize how all that time in the freezing cold would affect a live human. He contracted pneumonia and died.
Roald Dahl served in the Royal Air Force and in 1940 he was told to fly from Egypt to Libya. The long trip required multiple stops to refuel and somehow he got confused. While trying to land at the supposed destination, he crashed into the desert and cracked his skull. When he was rescued, he found out he was looking for a landing strip that didn’t exist in that part of the desert at all!
Charles Dickens was involved in a horrific train wreck in 1865, but when he discovered the press was showing up to cover the crash, he fled the scene with only his manuscript. Why? He was secretly traveling with his mistress and didn’t want the press–or his wife!–to find out.
William Faulkner won the Nobel Prize for literature in 1949. He showed up to accept the award with more than a speech–he was intoxicated. Faulkner’s slurred speech was so inarticulate, no one knew if the speech was any good until they read the printed version in the newspaper.
In 2003, James Frey published an astounding memoir called A Million Little Pieces that captured world-wide attention and received heaps of praise. Those million little pieces became a million little lies when it was discovered he had fabricated a large portion of his memoir. Since so much of it was embellished, no one believed him when he pointed out the parts that truly happened.
The education information on L. Ron Hubbard’s résumé claimed he graduated from George Washington University as a nuclear physicist and achieved a Ph.D from Sequoia University in California. Though humans may lie, school records don’t go along with it. Hubbard actually failed physics and dropped out of George Washington after two years in 1932. And that Ph.D? It was a mail-order diploma.
Carolyn Keene was the pseudonym for multiple authors who penned the Nancy Drew mystery books. But they must not have liked what each other wrote all the time because Nancy’s life details change a lot. She is described as blonde sometimes and other times as titian-haired. Her car changes from blue to maroon to green to black. And somehow her mother died when she was ten–and later dies when she was three.
Henry David Thoreau should’ve been an 1837 Harvard University graduate. However, he pulled an Ebenezer Scrooge and refused to pay the $5 graduation payment. Too bad all things, including an MBA degree, must be payed in full in order to receive them.
15-year-old Leo Tolstoy felt super guilty after experiencing the pleasures of his first brothel adventure in 1843. But those super-charged teenage hormones must’ve squashed the guilt because he went back again and again and again…and contracted gonorrhea.
I hope when you’re famous that I don’t some day read about you doing these foolish things. Instead, be different and do something newly foolish! ;)
Happy writing, Zigzaggers!
2011: O is for Olympians