The Washington Post has a lengthy article about Harper Lee and the controversy surrounding her newly found book, Go Set a Watchman.
washingtonpost.com/lifestyle … story.html
I don’t know what to make of the controversies. One of my neighbors knows the retired history professor in the article who say’s Lee is still lucid. It is possible to forget new events but still retain a memory of old ones and retain an ability to make decisions that fit with your beliefs.
Here’s perhaps the most relevant part of that article for writers:
The Lippincott editors were impressed enough to meet with Lee, but they were not overwhelmed.
Tay Hohoff, the eventual editor of the book, later wrote of that first meeting for a corporate history of Lippincott, before it was acquired by HarperCollins. She was in her 60s when she received the original manuscript, a clear-eyed, 30-year veteran of publishing. Shields, the biographer, found it and shared it with The Post.
“First of all, the element in the original manuscript which was unmistakable: it was alive, the characters stood on their own two feet, they were three-dimensional,” Hohoff wrote. “And the spark of the true writer flashed in every line. Though Miss Lee had then never published even an essay or a short story, this was clearly not the work of an amateur.”
That said, noted Hohoff, who died in 1974, the effort was very, very flawed.
“The manuscript we saw was more a series of anecdotes than a fully conceived novel. The editorial call to duty was plain. She needed, at last, professional help in organizing her material and developing a sound plot structure.”
Morale: A good editor can turn a good work into a masterpiece.
The article is well worth reading.