Perfect is as Perfect Does

President George W. Bush awards the Presidenti...

President George W. Bush awards the Presidential Medal of Freedom to author Harper Lee during a ceremony Monday, Nov. 5, 2007(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The title of this post calls out the fantastic talent of Harper Lee who wrote To Kill a Mockingbird published in
1960.  This was her one and only book (to date) and it won the Pulitzer Prize for fiction in 1961.  It has been surmised that Ms. Lee was so traumatized by the prospect of receiving poor reviews on To Kill Mockingbird that once she finished the book she never published another.  She did a little writing, but the last thing published for pay, was a 1965 article for McCall’s magazine titled When Children Discover America.   I personally believe that Harper Lee
produced the best book possible right out of the chute and did not need to go back to the well. ( Hummm …mixed metaphors again).  I think some writers write to embrace a discipline that leads to self- discovery through continual challenges leading to a break through to self-actualization. I really believe others want to be famous, rich, get more dates, get free food, or appear on The View.  In my humble opinion, I think Ms. Lee simply produced the best book possible and was comfortable with that and decided not to go any further.  Besides she got to
hang out with Truman Capote doing research for In Cold Blood and was presented with the Presidential Medal of
Freedom by President Bush in 1997.  So you have to ask yourself; how bad could it be to produce the best the very first and last time?

Here is her complete Biography: To Kill a Mockingbird. (1960) New York: J. B. Lippincott, “Love
— In Other Words”. (April 15, 1961)
Vogue, pp. 64–65, “Christmas to Me”. (December 1961) McCall’s, “When
Children Discover America”. (August 1965) McCall’s, “Romance and High Adventure” (1983), a paper presented in Eufaula, Alabama and collected in 1985 in the anthology Clearings in the Thicket,
Open
letter
to Oprah Winfrey (July 2006), O: The Oprah Magazine

4 comments

  1. [...] Perfect is as Perfect Does (johnwhowell.com) [...]

    1. Thank you for the comment and ping back. I have to agree with your point on plot. I also discussed this on November 9th when I wondered on a post about Bram Stoker; if stories like his would ever get published today. My issue was not plot but “overwriting” due to the perception that the reading public needed every nuance spelled out since there was not the media mindset that we have today. I enjoyed your post on Serendipity. Thanks again.

      1. Overwriting on description when combined with underwriting of story. action, and character development combines the worst of all literary worlds. Words, no matter how well put together, aren’t enough. Some of the stuff I’ve been reading is so dreadful — dull and depressing to no purpose — I wonder what publishers are thinking. One can but hope that a waves of intelligence and thought will overcome the publishing world and they will remember that one good acquisitions editor can be worth thousands of computer applications.

      2. Good points. Of course, as you imply, the acquisition editor needs to stand tall for good work. Thanks again.

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