Harper Lee starting her writing career in a fashion that most writers can only dream of. Knowing that she wanted to write for a living, friends of hers gave her the Christmas gifts of all Christmas gifts: they paid her salary for one year, freeing her up from the juggling act of maintaining a full-time job and attempting to write. The result of that year is To Kill A Mockingbird, one of the most beloved and respected novels of the 20th century.
Harper Lee was one of the lucky ones. The rest of us have to find the balance between our full-time jobs, our families, whatever else we have to deal with and (hopefully being paid for) writing. This challenge (which seems to be universal among all writers) is addressed in the non fiction collection of essays, Scratch: Writers, Money, and the Art of Making a Living Book Review. Edited by Manjula Martin (editor of the now defunct Scratch Magazine), the collection contains interviews and essays by well-known writers such as Roxane Gay, Jennifer Weiner and Nicky Hornby.
I really, really appreciated this book. What made me appreciate it is the universal struggle of all writers. Especially in the beginning, when we are starting our careers and hoping that our dreams come to fruition.
I absolutely recommend it.
To Kill A Mockingbird is one of those books. Whether we read it in school or we read it independently, it is one of the most beloved books of recent memory.
It’s no surprise that it was made into a movie only two years after the book was published. Starring Gregory Peck as Atticus Finch, the white lawyer defending Tom Robinson (Brock Peters), a black man accused of raping a white woman.
Harper Lee’s novel is perfect for the silver screen and made at the perfect time. A reflection of the turmoil and change that would soon affect America, it holds up as a respected classic that is as relevant today as it was in 1962.
I recommend it.
Harper Lee passed away today.
Best known for writing the modern classic that is To Kill A Mockingbird, she was revered as of the best American writers of the last few decades.
One of the popular words of wisdom that is passed around to writers is “write what you know”. Ms. Lee based her book on the world she knew and incident from her childhood. To Kill A Mockingbird is the story of a young girl named Scout. Her father, Atticus Finch is lawyer whose newest client is Tom Robinson, an African-American man who has been accused of raping a white woman.
In 1962, at the height of the Civil Rights movement, a film version of the book was released with Gregory Peck in the role of Atticus Finch.
Last year, an unpublished draft of Go Set A Watchman, an early draft of what would become To Kill A Mockingbird was printed with protest from the author.
There are many writers (myself included) whose life long wish is to see their novel in stores. But to have your novel live on long after your bones have returned to the dust is the ultimate dream.
RIP Harper Lee.