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Monday, December 17, 2012

The Margaret Mitchell House

It's the post you've been waiting for! All about the site where Margaret Mitchell wrote 75% of the first draft of Gone with the Wind. It was the last place my husband and I visited before we left Atlanta. I couldn't leave behind such a monument to writerly moxie! Although its themes are surrounded by controversy, it's hard to knock the quality of the writing in the original novel.

The house has been restored to what Margaret Mitchell and her husband might have wished it looked like when they were living there. This is what would have been the front. You can kind of get a sense of the way this historic building sits among business high-rises, all by itself now.

Margaret Mitchell and her husband did not occupy the entire house, although the building has been given over to Gone with the Wind now. They lived in a really small one-bedroom apartment on the first floor. You can see the sitting room windows on the left in this view, the back of the house.

Here is the door they used to get in and out, complete with mailboxes. There was a back door through the kitchenette. Margaret was a reporter for the local paper, but when she broke her ankle, she became housebound. When her husband got tired of ferrying books back and forth from the library, he told Margaret she'd read every book they had, and she should write her own.

And she did. The best light in the house came in though the windows you can see in the other picture. They set a typewriter on a tiny table and she wrote and wrote, using her journalism training to start at the end and include lots of realistic details.

The furnishings are from the period, not related to Margaret Mitchell. She and her husband would have had mismatched hand-me-downs and thrift store finds. I was deeply moved to see this space and its similarities to the spaces where I've written over the past two years. It shows that all you need to finish a monumental novel is training and discipline. Quiet determination and a passion for your subject. And enough support from your loved ones to print the whole thing out and have it tower over you when you've put it into hundreds of manila envelopes.

Best writer tourism destination. Ever.