In Who the Hell Is Pansy O’Hara?: The Fascinating Stories Behind 50 of the World’s Best-Loved Books, we find this about Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird:
In 1957 Lee submitted a manuscript to J.B. Lippincott Company. However, the author might never have completed her novel if not for a generous gift of money from friends the year before. Witnessing her dedication to her craft, friends pooled their cash and gave Lee the best Christmas present of her life — a note attached to the envelope read, “You have one year off from your job to write whatever you please. Merry Christmas.”
Note to my friends: This is not a hint for you to do the same thing. Really. Don’t even try. Unless you really, really want to. But otherwise, nope.