"It takes time and patience and effort to turn out a work of art, and few people seem willing to go all the way. I see a great deal of sloppiness and I deplore it. I think writers today are too easily pleased with their work. This is sad. There's no substitute for struggling, if a struggle is needed, to make an English sentence as beautiful as it should be.
"I want to do the best I can with the talent God gave me. I would like to leave some record of... small-town middle-class southern life. All I want to be is the Jane Austen of south Alabama."
So said Harper Lee, author of To Kill a Mockingbird, in her last major interview, which took place 42 years ago. She's quoted in The Independent Online in an article about a new and very much unauthorized biography of the reclusive writer.
I've never been moved by any of the speculation that Lee's childhood friend Truman Capote might have ghostwritten her one and only novel. Neither am I fascinated by discussions of her possible alcoholism or her fear of success or by any of the myriad hypotheses that have been put forward to explain why she stopped writing--because I don't believe she did stop writing.
Call me crazy, but I think we'll see further novels from her, although they may well be published posthumously. I believe she has written and may still be writing other stories because quotes like the one above reveal somebody with a passion for writing; and as a passionate (though far less gifted) writer, I don't believe it's possible that she could have simply switched that off and walked away.
What do you think?