I’ve been thinking about Nelle Harper Lee and how she wrote the perfect book. How she constructed something wonderful, not dirty, not silly, not vulgar or awkward, and how it sold twenty-five gazillion copies and will always keep selling and be read.
How satisfying that must feel. So satisfying that she never wrote another one. Why would you? How do you follow perfection?
Poor creators of Madmen: after three superb seasons the fourth has lapsed ever so slightly into exposition and sentimentality. It’s still breathtaking viewing - you could watch Don’s collars and Joan’s hips til the cows come home, but I have a feeling they didn’t expect the show to run so long. When I think of The Wire and it’s perfect construction from Season 1 to 5, always knowing where it was going, and then finishing with a majestic bang, I think of Nelle. She, like the Wire creators, knew the beginning and end of her story. So she began it, built it and ended it.
I admire that so much. I wish I could construct. But what I’ve always done best is spew. Endless, swelling tides of it.
I wonder about NHL. Would she have written a hit TV series if she was starting now? Would she have written a blog? Would hers be silly and exposing and say the word Penis too many times? Would she giggle like the Village Idiot every time she wrote it?
Or would she be spending her time carefully crafting a masterly, refined work?
What should I be doing?
I know exactly what, secretly - I should be finishing my book. But that requires construction and focus. The blog is much more fun. I can’t even bring myself to read the manuscript at the moment, it makes me what to thunderchuck. Did Nelle Harper Lee suffer such crippling self-doubt? Did she feel like every time she could just about touch her novel she’d reach out to it and it would disappear into dust?
There it sits on the chair, smirking at me through the jaws of the Bulldog Clip. There it waits, anxious, awkward, silly, unsure, vulgar.
Oh how I loathe that Clip. I dream of binding. Of a good, hard spine. I dream of the day I will crunch that Bulldog Clip under my boots, murder it, make my heel bleed.
Help me Harper.