I’ve been reading Flannery O’Connor’s Mystery and Manners like a devotional–one chapter a day, with time to savor and think about each page. Today’s essay, “The Nature and Aim of Fiction” ought to be required reading for anyone who would write novels. With a wry sense of humor, O’Connor speaks plain truth and challenges at the same time.
This is priceless, and one of those “plain truth” comments:
“But there is a widespread curiosity about writers and how they work, and when a writer talks on this subject, there are always misconceptions and mental rubble for him to clear away before he can even begin to see what he wants to talk about. I am not, of course, as innocent as I look. I know well enough that very few people who are supposedly interested in writing are interested in writing well. They are interested in publishing something, and if possible in ‘making a killing.’ They are interested in beng a writer, not in writing. They are interested in seeing their names at the top of something printed, it matters not what. And they seem to feel that this can be accomplished by learning certain things about working habits and about markets and about what subjects are currently acceptable.”
Oh, if you could see what I’ve seen–the rapt attention beginning writers pay to editors who dare to talk about trends and “the market” and what’s currently selling. Who cares? By the time a book is written and published, today’s trend is yesterday’s news. And if you’re writing to the market, you’re not even beginning to write from your passion. You’re not listening to the voice of God, the voice of Truth, but the voice of consumerism.
I love this essay!