Tag Archives: Harper Lee

Self-doubt: An Authors Worst Enemy

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IMG_2009Authors are plagued with self-doubt and worry over silly things.

Harper Lee, for one, threw her whole manuscript for To Kill a Mockingbird out her NYC window while editing. Fortunately, her publisher made her retrieve and finish the book. See, Fling Manuscript From the Window.

Laura Ingalls Wilder’s daughter, Rose, stated in a diary entry the she doubted her mother’s manuscript would “come to anything.” [Smith Hill, Pamela. Introduction. “Will it Come to Anything?”: The Story of Pioneer Girl] However, in an interesting twist, Rose later used her mother’s rejected Pioneer Girl to craft new novels for herself. By 1932 she and her mother had published novels base on Laura’s original adult manuscript. Laura Ingalls Wilder’s name and books are still world-famous.

Authors want praise for hard work, readers to love their words. They want to make a difference in the world. But even after a book is published, garnered accolades, and the author praised, doubt returns. Why? Simple rejection by one person.

Even if multiple people have purchased, reviewed, or praised the authors work, it’s that one person who reads the back cover and walks away, or promises a review and doesn’t, who triggers an author’s fatalistic imagination.

My dear authors, hang on to your sanity! Stay focused on your goal and start a file of all the praise, awards, and encouragement you’ve received. Self-doubt is destructive liar.

How do you overcome these times?

Go Set a Wat…Chapter One Opinion

So, I just read the first chapter of Go Set a Watchman, by Harper Lee, that’s trending all over the Internet as a promotion for the book release on the 14th of July. This was the original book she wanted published.

Let go of expectations. Read it as if you know nothing of To Kill a Mockingbird and you won’t be as shocked. This is a different story with an edgier style and slower pace, yet still crafted by a genius.

I’m leaning toward To Kill a Mockingbird being the better choice, however.

Go Set A Wat…

According to an article published on International Business Times website, March 12, 2015: “Harper Lee: Elder Abuse And Fraud Charges Investigated By State Of Alabama” by Barbara Herman. The state of Alabama is investigating allegations made by a doctor acquainted with Harper Lee, who claims “she did not seem to be lucid when he visited.” He fears Ms. Lee maybe be the victim of financial fraud due to her supposed agreement with HarperCollins to release an early draft of the book that became, To Kill a Mockingbird (1960).

If Ms. Lee had deemed her original manuscript worthy of a second look she would not have allowed it to stay tucked away. And furthermore, what writer, in their right mind, would want a rough draft published after they worked so hard rewriting the book for publication. (see my post,”Fling the Manuscript Out the Window”)

I certainly wouldn’t want my original NaNoWriMo draft published.

It Begins With Passion

The kind of passion family and friends accuse us of being obsessed about because we neglect them at times. We’ve stayed up too late meeting a deadline, finishing a thought, or tweaking one more sentence. Fellow writers are the only ones who understand. We follow and friend each other for support and higher social media stats.

One of my favorite quotes comes from Harper Lee’s interview by Roy Newquist, from his book, Counterpoint (1964 by Rand McNally): “Writing is a process of self-discipline you must learn before you can call yourself a writer. There are people who write, but I think they’re quite different from people who must write.”

Why do we do it? Because a passion to tell a story rose from the depth of our souls, a character from our imagination became real. We hear them screaming for help because we left them in the middle of a disaster scene when real life interrupted.

We share our WIP with others, “wanting honest feedback,” but not really. Upon hearing the truth of flat characters or disjointed, lack luster plots, we spiral into  despair. We pout, eat chocolate, and stare at the delete button, anticipating life as a normal person.

But we can’t—passion to tell the story compels us back from the brink to try again. We sigh and take a fresh look, apologize to our Protagonist, and complete the journey because we must. Maybe someday our family and friends will understand and love us anyway.

Fling the Manuscript Out the Window

IMG_2009An interesting story is told about Harper Lee, author of To Kill A Mockingbird (1960), by biographer, Charles J. Shields in his book, Mockingbird (2006)

(Summary mine) Sometime before publication, Ms. Lee was struggling with revisions. She opened the window of her apartment and flung the manuscript into the darkness. Years of work scattered in the snow. Thankfully, her editor made her retrieve every page.

I wonder how many writers give up months before greatness. I’ve been rewriting my “Precious” for years. Thankfully, a writing coach gave me direction and encouragement, stating, “You have a good draft to work with.” But the learning curve is huge and daunting. I’ve almost hit the delete button more than once. I almost stuffed every year’s hardcopy into the wood burning stove. But I can’t let it go. My bucket list consists of one item: Publish My Book.

Harper’s Lee’s fit encouraged me to understand the, nobody will care anyway, days.  So, hang in there another year struggling writer friends.