To Gaze Into the Literary Face of God…
A 1961 LIFE Magazine photo of Nell Harper Lee at work on what we know now was the epilogue for To Kill A Mockingbird...Go Tell A Watchman.
It was in these years that she would follow Truman Capote to Kansas by train to act as quasi secretary and info sleuth for Truman as he dug for the essence to those ghastly Clutter murders in Holcolm, in '59.
I post this photo here as a kind of visual likeness to myself: plain clothed, no make-up, hair undone, focused on my mind's eyes instead of the outside world looking in at me..sans cigarette smoke, of course!
To any full time writer, this is about as "romantic" as it gets when you're down in the trenches, all alone, fighting with those oh, so many words to describe the esoteric perfection floating inside your head.
As we now know, that second novel never was promptly published as Nell hoped. She said on more than one occasion that after the astronomical success with Mockingbird, "I know now what it takes" to create perfection, and the second go-’round can be just too much.
Truman knew it too.
In Cold Blood was his Mt. Everest.
In my novel, No More Blood, Truman, as Nell, wrestles with the haunting of his meteoric rise to fame and the pressure of re-inventing the perfect wheel.
Both he and Nell never again achieve that re-invention.
Maybe for some, if you gaze even once into the face of God, your ability to see again is lost to all time.
Maybe all a writer can hope for is what is seen in this 1961 photo: a decent, quiet place to work and contentment at being able to Do, not necessarily to Show.