Louisa May Alcott wrote Little Women for the money. And it made her miserable.
As a young writer, Alcott concentrated on lurid pulp stories of revenge, murder, and adultery–“blood and thunder” literature, as she called i–and enjoyed writing very much. She was in her mid 30s when an editor suggested she try writing a book for girls. Alcott wasn’t very interested, but her father was a complete moron with money and had left the family in terrible financial trouble. Alcott wrote Little Women in hopes of some decent sales and a little breathing room and got way more than she asked for. The money in sequels was too good to turn down (and her father didn’t get any smarter with a dime), but Alcott hated writing what she called “moral pap for the young” and longed to return to the smut and violence of her early endeavors.
David Foster Wallace was by the end a good person, loved and mourned by just about everyone except Bret Easton Ellis. It’s possible to see Wallace’s career as the inversion of that of another great American novelist who wrote journalism that was pervaded by his personality: Norman Mailer. Monstrousness was the thing Mailer was always trying to enact and the thing Wallace was always trying to deflect or recover from. Wallace was consumed by guilt even on the page; Mailer never seemed to feel a pang. Wallace couldn’t stand Mailer’s books: ‘Unutterably repulsive. I guess part of his whole charm is his knack for arousing strong reactions. Hitler had the same gift.’