As paychecks for short stories, novels, and other writing assignments rolled in during the 1920s, she always found ways to spend them on clothes, apartments, cars, and travel. Her approach to money assumed that it was easier to earn more of it than it was to try to save it. So rather than attempting to cut back on expenditures, she pushed herself to churn out ever more material for the book publishers and magazine editors, frantically trying to keep her head above financial water.
The Depression forced Rose to become more realistic about her expectations. There were limits, she began to realize, to what she could do and accomplish. Having built up a substantial nest egg in a New York brokerage account, she received the devastating news in November 1931, that the entire investment had become worthless. 3 During the next several years, while her mother’s writing career began to blossom (thanks in large part to the work that she herself put into editing and revising her mother’s handwritten manuscripts), her own writing career sputtered. She would experience more triumphs, such as the publication in 1932 of Let the Hurricane Roar and in 1938 of Free Land, but their frequency tapered off. Meanwhile, in addition to the financial losses she incurred, she grew increasingly depressed by the aging process, health problems, bad teeth, her realization that no more romances probably awaited her, lack of compatible companionship, and the growing awareness that she was running out of things to say as a fiction?writer. 4 In a journal entry on May 28, she wrote, “Nothing has changed in my circumstances. I am still deep in debt, held here where I hate to be, grown old, losing my teeth, all that-and never anyone knowing I am here, so that I feel forgotten in a living grave.” 5 Rose’s biographer William Holtz notes that she recognized a connection between her own mental depression during the 1930s and the economic Depression that the country was suffering through. 6