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!


  1. MaryAnn Diorio, PhD

    This passage so resonates with me. Flannery O’Connor’s comments here reveal one of the reasons I consider her to be not only a highly gifted writer but also an authentic one. Thanks so much for posting this, Angie!

  2. Mocha with Linda

    Wow. So, so good. I should send that to my nephew who thinks he wrote the book to set the world straight. Sadly, I don’t think he would pay attention or believe it.

  3. Anonymous

    Thanks, Angie. I love it, too!

    Blessings, sis,
    Mary Kay

  4. sandysnavely

    The thing I’m loving about my first venture into fiction is the “learning how to do it well” and falling in love with my characters and their story. The thing that scares the stuffing out of me is the thought of publishing.I guess I’m on the right track. Maybe.


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