Harper Lee Has a Backlist of One

Whenever I begin to worry too much about goals, and success, and output, and all that, I remind myself: Harper Lee.

Harper Lee wrote a novel.

It was her first novel.

She was past thirty years old when To Kill A Mockingbird was published in 1960. It won the Pulitzer Prize in 1961. In 1999, it was voted “Best Novel of the Century” in a Library Journal poll.

She began another novel, but never finished it.

She published some essays, but never published any more fiction at all.

Yet I defy anyone to say Harper Lee is not a writer.

Tune in tomorrow for a guest post from Andrea Barra, PhD candidate in Sociology: “Romance, Academia, and Me.” She’s researching and writing about romance and the romance community.

Related post: The Desire to Publish.

About Victoria Janssen

Victoria Janssen [she, her] currently writes cozy space opera for Kalikoi. The novella series A Place of Refuge begins with Finding Refuge: Telepathic warrior Talia Avi, genius engineer Miki Boudreaux, and augmented soldier Faigin Balfour fought the fascist Federated Colonies for ten years, following the charismatic dissenter Jon Churchill. Then Jon disappeared, Talia was thought dead, and Miki and Faigin struggled to take Jon’s place and stay alive. When the FC is unexpectedly upended, Talia is reunited with her friends and they are given sanctuary on the enigmatic planet Refuge. The trio of former guerillas strive to recover from lifetimes of trauma, build new lives on a planet with endless horizons, and forge tender new connections with each other.
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3 Responses to Harper Lee Has a Backlist of One

  1. Louisa Edwards says:

    Good point! That question of who's a writer and who isn't gets so contentious and difficult.

  2. Jeannie Lin says:

    I always loved To Kill a Mockingbird and I asked this question of my sister once when we were discussing her — would you rather publish one standout, timeless book like TKAM that will be read and talked about forever or publish one pulp novel a year that no one in 20 years will remember? I said hands down, one a year.

    I think Harper Lee and Margaret Mitchell both tried to write additional books that never made it to the shelves. Goes to show you how hard the process of writing/publishing can be.

  3. Victoria Janssen says:

    It makes me wonder if early success caused such fear–"my next book won't be as good"–that it paralyzed their writing.

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