Flannery on fiction writing

More from Flannery O’Connor, as I continue to re-read Mystery and Manners: Occasional Prose.  This passage is from her essay “The Nature and Aim of Fiction”:

We hear a great deal of lamentation these days about writers having all taken themselves to the college and universities where they live decorously instead of going out and getting firsthand information about life.  The fact is that anybody who has survived his childhood has enough information about life to last him the rest of his days.  If you can’t make something out of a little experience, you probably won’t be able to make it out of a lot.  The writer’s business is to contemplate experience, not to be merged in it.

Everywhere I go I’m asked if I think the universities stifle writers.  My opinion is that they don’t stifle enough of them.  There’s many a best-seller that could have been prevented by a good teacher.


20. December 2006 by Mindy
Categories: On writing | 6 comments

Comments (6)

  1. My opinion is that they don’t stifle enough of them. There’s many a best-seller that could have been prevented by a good teacher.

    She is so pithy in her insight. I will have to obtain this book. I like your blog.

  2. Thanks, Ched. When you get the book, let me know which essay is your favorite–it’s hard to choose.

  3. Hi! You have got to help me. I just finished reading Flannery O’connor’s Revelation. Some of the students in my Literature class, and my professor, has the idea that the Mary Grace’s character is suffering from an Epileptic fit in the scene where Mrs. Turpin is hit with the Human Development book. I don’t see it this way. My thoughts reflect an image of Mary Grace as a “lunatic,” as it was stated by one other character in the passage. What are your thoughts on this?

  4. Pingback: Mindy Withrow.com » Blog Archive » Flannery fans: your interpretation requested

  5. Hope, it’s been so long since I read this and my Flannery volumes are in storage at the moment. I’ve posted the question on my home page to see if any other readers can help with an interpretation. They usually have opinions, so let’s see what they come up with!

  6. I would like to ask a question. What is the difference between contemplating an experience versus merging into it? Please be specific.