Erotica author, aka Elspeth Potter, on Writing from the Inside

Thursday, June 11, 2009

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.


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

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