Why Harper Lee's 'Mockingbird' Sequel Will Be Well Worth The Wait
You may poke fun at a woman who took 50 years off between jobs, but it seems as though Harper Lee is the classic one and done.
Some may call her lazy; some may say brilliant, as she's a woman who knows when to walk away. I am definitely in the party of the latter: Harper Lee is a genius.
She created a great American novel, a staple in every child's life. With Scout as our guide, we learned about racial inequality, making unlikely friendships, mutual respect and knowing what is right.
Scout taught me a thing or two back in the day, and I'd safely assume I'm in the majority on that opinion.
Well, except for those disadvantaged children who went to schools where "To Kill a Mockingbird" was banned for being immoral. Those kids lost out, that's for sure.
I get why Harper gave up on writing after the huge success of "To Kill a Mockingbird."
People are going to think almost everything is a letdown after such an iconic story.
As she once said about why she never wrote again,
Two reasons: one, I wouldn't go through the pressure and publicity I went through with "To Kill a Mockingbird" for any amount of money. Second, I have said what I wanted to say and I will not say it again.
I'm not a famous person, but I would imagine being famous is incredibly challenging. When everyone's eyes are on you, it's like you have to be a tireless dancing monkey to make everyone happy.
And, when you're a public figure, people feel entitled to offer their criticisms of you.
They feel welcome to talk like they know you. They feel like you owe them a show. They feel like they own you.
This might be an odd comparison, but I respect Harper in the same way I respect Sia; they saw what fame does to a person, and would rather keep their art protected than throw it to the wolves.
Also, when you write something, you're leaving a bit of your soul out there for everyone to scrutinize.
So, when publishers and press are after you, hounding you to do something new, create the same magic, I can see how one would close his or herself off from it totally.
I almost stopped blogging when people I knew started reading my writing because I hated the thought that people could see my vulnerabilities and dissect me as a person.
It turns you from an human being living your life, to a character in a story to which everyone feels entitled.
To Harper's second point, bravo. If everyone had the mentality to say what you need to say and then shut up, the world would be a happier place.
With the Internet, and the constant struggle to stay relevant, we keep reinventing the wheel.
How many times have you read an article about what's hard about being a Millennial these days? Maybe even in list form?
Probably hundreds. Rather than staking our case and leaving, we beat that dead horse until it's disintegrated.
And, I am a criminal of this, too. I want my blog to stay up-to-date, but sometimes, I just run out of things to talk about.
But, if you stop, you risk falling off people's radar, so you rework some silly idea you've had for a while, maybe just talk about some inconsequential event that happened without dissecting it or drawing away any meaning.
It's not adding any value to a person's life.
Harper knew she struck gold, and didn't pollute the world with anymore hot air because she knew it wasn't valuable. I'll say it again: Bravo, Harper Lee.
Fifty years is a very long time to wait for someone's sophomore work, but with regards to Harper Lee, I would put money on the table it'll be well worth the wait.