Thursday, January 08, 2009

Writing Seminar

I am savoring, oh so slowly, the letters of Flannery O’Connor as printed in The Habit of Being. Almost every page contains beautiful or clever advice to a writer, or descriptions of the writing life. I am not a book-buyer, but fifty pages into my library copy (and several pages of my own meticulous quote-copying) I informed my purchasing agent (hubby) that I Needed to Own This Book. And, voila, it appeared in the mail a few days later. (Thank you, my ever-supportive-spouse.) So now I can underline to my heart’s content. Today I have for you a few precious tidbits.

On process:

“I never have anything balanced in my mind when I set out; if I did, I’d resign
this profession from boredom and operate a hatchery.”

On being a religions writer:

“A Catholic has to have strong nerves to write about Catholics.”
(substitute “Mormon.”)

“I write the way I do because and only because I am a Catholic. I feel that if I
were not a Catholic, I would have no reason to write, no reason to see, no
reason ever to feel horrified or even to enjoy anything . . . I have been formed
by the Church.”

On poetry:

“Few poets have any business to write novels.”

Your assignment: Choose one of the above quotes and write a response. Here, in my comments section.

(this post cross-posted at Darlenelyoung.wordpress.com)

6 comments:

Th. said...

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“A Catholic has to have strong nerves to write about Catholics.”

1. Religion is closest to the core of the soul.

2. Even among the orthodox, no two individual humans see even The One Truth in the same way.

3. Ergo, no matter how you try, when writing about matters closest to the soul, some will be offended, some offput, some appalled, some ashamed, etc.

myimaginaryblog said...

1. (The quote operating a hatchery)

I'd heard a similar thing (I think I heard it in the one creative writing course I ever took) where an author said they weren't interested in writing about things they already knew the answers to. Personally I think I wouldn't want to try to write something where I couldn't come to SOME sort of satisfying conclusion by the end of the story, but I definitely agree that if you don't personally find aspects of your topic challenging and intriguing and question-raising, then your work will fail to challenge or intrigue, or in other words fail to draw a reader in.

myimaginaryblog said...

P.S. I love Flannery O'Connor.

Michelle said...

You're not a book buyer? Oh my! You'd be horrified by my overflowing bookshelves, tables, nightstands. I have to OWN books-- sometimes several copies.

“I write the way I do because and only because I am a Catholic. I feel that if I
were not a Catholic, I would have no reason to write, no reason to see, no
reason ever to feel horrified or even to enjoy anything . . . I have been formed
by the Church.”

This is absolutely why I write and sustains all my writing dreams.

Laura said...

I like the poetry one. Every now and again I think I'm going to write a novel but it is so, so hard. Poetry (when it's ready) just seems to flow out of me. And I've certainly been more successful with my poetry. O'Connor must have been right!

Melinda said...

So, I want to know your response to the last quote about few poets having any business in writing novels. How do you feel about that? Are you one of the few?

I could write a novel, but a poem? Well that's another story...I have high regard for poets--to use so few words and create such wonderfully vivid and emotional pictures is amazing to me.