Tag Archives: Flannery O’Connor

Story: What Some Folks Would Do (From Flannery O’Connor).

This week’s video story: “Well, them stories just gone and shown you how some folks would do.”

 

This is the quotation I’m talking about, from Flannery O’Connor’s essay “Writing Short Stories,” in Mystery and Manners:

I lent some stories to a country lady who lives down the road from me, and when she returned them, she said, “Well, them stories just gone and shown you how some folks would do,” and I thought to myself that that was right; when you write stories, you have to be content to start exactly there—showing how some specific folks will do, will do in spite of everything.

I’ve tried to explain why this passage has such power for me, but I’m not confident that I actually understand why these lines have haunted me for so long.

Do you have a quotation that sticks with you? That runs through your head, over and over?

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Story: It’s a Sign of Maturity Not To Be Scandalized.

For the weekly videos, I now tell a story. I’ve realized that for me, and I think for many people, a story is what holds my attention and makes a point most powerfully.

This week’s story: It’s a sign of maturity not to be scandalized.

 

Here’s the complete quotation from Flannery O’Connor:

“From 15 to 18 is an age at which one is very sensitive to the sins of others, as I know from recollections of myself. At that age you don’t look for what is hidden. It is a sign of maturity not to be scandalized and to try to find explanations in charity.”

–Letter of August 19, 1959

I love the work of Flannery O’Connor. Her fiction is so mind-blowing that I can hardly bear to read it, and I also love her non-fiction. I ‘ve read that collection of letters, The Habit of Being, three times. And here’s my latest Flannery O’Connor quote, from an interview she gave: “I’m interested in the old Adam. He just talks southern because I do.”

I wouldn’t describe it the same way, but that’s what I’m interested, too. The old Adam.

Can’t see the video? Click here. If you want to read more about along these lines, check out this post.

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“Them Stories Just Gone and Shown You How Some Folks Would Do.”

“I lent some stories to a country lady who lives down the road from me, and when she returned them, she said, “Well, them stories just gone and shown you how some folks would do,” and I thought to myself that that was right; when you write stories, you have to be content to start exactly there—showing how some specific folks will do, will do in spite of everything.”

–Flannery O’Connor, “Writing Short Stories,” in Mystery and Manners

I’m not sure why I love this quotation so much, but I think about it all the time. Perhaps it’s because in my own writing, I’m always trying to understand what I’m seeing right in front of me–what some folks (including me) will do, will do in spite of everything.

“If You Do the Same Thing Every Day at the Same Time For the Same Length of Time…”

“If you do the same thing every day at the same time for the same length of time, you’ll save yourself from many a sink. Routine is a condition of survival.”

–Flannery O’Connor, The Habit of Being, letter to “A,” February 10, 1962

Here, O’Connor was specifically talking about the habit of writing; she wrote every morning for three hours, in the same place at the same time. How about you? Do you find accomplishing certain things to be easier if you regularly do them the same way? Or do you find routine stifling? I love routine.

“It Is a Sign of Maturity Not To Be Scandalized…”

“From 15 to 18 is an age at which one is very sensitive to the sins of others, as I know from recollections of myself. At that age you don’t look for what is hidden. It is a sign of maturity not to be scandalized and to try to find explanations in charity.”

–Flannery O’Connor, The Habit of Being: Letters of Flannery O’Connor, letter of August 19, 1959.