Harper Lee — the famously private author, might never have written the classic “To Kill A Mockingbird” if it hadn’t been for a 1950s Christmas gift.
Back in 1956, Lee was a ticket agent for British Overseas Airways Corporation. Like most struggling writers, she was having trouble balancing her job and finding time to write. She told this to her New York City friends, Michael and Joy Brown (who were also friends of Truman Capote).
Michael was a successful “industrial musical writer” whom American corporations hired to create performances to inspire their workers. His clients ranged from DuPont to JC Penney, and he was raking in the money for songs like “The Wonderful World of Chemistry.”
So in 1956, the Browns’ gave Lee the best Christmas present of all: An entire year’s salary so she could take time to write whatever she wanted. “There was an envelope on the tree, addressed to me. I opened it and read: ‘You have one year off from your job to write whatever you please. Merry Christmas,'” she wrote in McCall’s Magazine in 1961. “ They assured me that it was not some sort of joke. They’d had a good year, they said. They’d saved some money and thought it was high time they did something about me.”
Lee took that time to write “To Kill A Mockingbird,” which sold over 40 million copies worldwide, has been translated into over 40 languages, served as the basis for a hugely popular film, and for which she won a Pulitzer Prize.
“when life gives you a gift, receive it with all your heart.”
credits: Megan Willett-Wei, Insider
“all you have to do is write one true sentence. write the truest sentence you know.”
image credit: scott metzger
loving my new journals and so looking forward to filling them
“language allows us to reach out to people, to touch them with our innermost fears, hopes, disappointments, victories.
to reach out to people we’ll never meet.
it’s the greatest legacy you could ever leave your children or your loved ones:
the history of how you felt.”
-simon van booy
my class has recently become enamored with a giant box of dinos
they play with them every day
create wildly imaginative scenarios
ask questions about real dinos
reassure me that the ones in our room are not real
one day when playing, a child asked
“would they wear masks if they were alive now?”
another jumped up to say
“never, ever, ever, ever, try to put a mask on a t-rex!!!!”
and an instant class book was born
what a brilliant title
others jumped in to offer reasons why you shouldn’t try to mask one
brainstorming was in full swing
some became illustrators
it is a fascinating and funny work in progress.
dinos may have left the earth forever, but books will never die.
“stories are the common ground that allow people to connect, despite all our defenses and all our differences.”
what you might imagine it to be vs. what it might quite possibly be.
i recently listened to this book written and read by stephen king, and loved every minute of it-
a mix of his personal story and very straight shooting practical advice.
“It starts with this: put your desk in the corner, and every time you sit down there to write,
remind yourself why it isn’t in the middle of the room.
Life isn’t a support system for art. It’s the other way around.”
― Stephen King
Amazon book review summary: Short and snappy as it is, Stephen King’s On Writing really contains two books: a fondly sardonic autobiography and a tough-love lesson for aspiring novelists.
image credits: tom gauld, simon and schuster
“what difference does it make if you live in a picturesque little outhouse
surrounded by 300 feeble minded goats and your faithful dog?
the question is: can you write?”
– Ernest Hemingway
early winter hiking in MacCready Nature Reserve, Irish Hills, MI, USA 2020
what impeccable timing
as soon as i had finished working on puzzles
on my favorite old table
putting pen to my journal instead
olive also changed hobbies
from puzzling to journaling
the same time and place
“the best time to begin keeping a journal is whenever you decide to.”
“i’ve decided that the best time is now.
the puzzles are gone, there are no open spaces in a puzzle to fill in by laying on them with my body,
no pieces to quietly and slowly push off the table with my paw, and no frame to snag and break apart with my claw.
perfect time to begin a journal.”
that surprising and wonderful moment
when you discover
there is yet one more unread book
written by one of your favorite authors
hiding in plain sight
waiting for you to pick it up.
“books are for nothing but to inspire”
an important kinder note.
i’ll be writing back.
“words are but pictures of our thoughts.”
an update of my progress on my book.
“i’m writing a book.
i’ve got the page numbers done.”