Well, I think it's time for more philosophising from Flannery O'Connor. These quotes are taken from pages 139 and 143-44 of The Habit of Being: Letters of Flannery O'Connor, 1979 edition.
"I once had the feeling I would dig my mother's grave with my writing, too, but I later discovered this was vanity on my part. They are hardier than we think."
I like this one because I think too much about what other people are going to think about my writing. I do it both ways--thinking one group of my friends will think it's too gooey, or others will think it's too scandalous. Or I worry that people will simply misunderstand what I'm saying. Especially with poetry, I can't make everything so clear as to prevent the possibility of misunderstanding without losing all art and subtlety. I have to be willing to risk misinterpretation and leave the readers their free agency.
"About scandalizing the 'little ones.' When I first began to write I was much worried about this thing of scandalizing people, as I fancied that what I wrote was highly inflammatory. I was wrong--it wouldn't even have kept anybody awake, but anyway, thinking this was my problem, I talked to a priest about it. The first thing he said to me was, 'You don't have to write for fiteen-year-old-girls.' Of course, the mind of a fifteen-year-old girl lurks in many a head that is seventy-five and people are every day being scandalized not only by what is scandalous of its nature but by what is not. If a novelist wrote a book about Abraham passing his wife Sarah off as his sister--which he did--and allowing her to be taken over by those who wanted her for their lustful purposes--which he did to save his skin--how many Catholics would not be scandalized at the behavior of Abraham? The fact is that in order not to be scandalized, one has to have a whole view of things, which not many of us have."
"When you wirte a novel, if you have been honest about it and if your conscience is clear, then it seems to me that you have to leave the rest in God's hands. . . . I think that for the writer to worry about this is to take over God's business."
This one hits me hard. I believe that--believe that it is wrong and actually damaging to the quality of my art for me to be more involved than I should in God's business. My business is to do what I feel called to do, and do it as well as I possibly can, then leave the rest to God.
"Part of the mystery of existence is sin. When we think about the Crucifixion, we miss the point of it if we don't think about sin."
"Fiction is suposed to represent life, and the fiction writer has to use as many aspects of life as are necessary to make his total picture convincing. The fiction writer doesn't state, he shows, renders."
"The two worst sins of bad taste in fiction are pornography and sentimentality. One is too much sex and the other too much sentiment. You have to have enough of either to prove your point but no more."
"I don't think you have to worry much about bad taste with a competent writer, because he uses everything for a reason."
I so agree with this one. It explains why the depiction of sin in some things doesn't bother me at all, and other times drives me crazy. So many writers seem to just throw it in for fun, and not for a purpose.
"What offends my taste in fiction is when right is held up as wrong, or wrong as right."