I was reflecting with a quiver in my lip over the strangely restorative ravages of correction worked upon a prospective article, like a child sulking that its filthy blanket has been taken away to the washing machine. With more than a touch of melodrama, I mentally bemoaned the process as â€œbloody.â€ I sought solace in conjuring up widely flung metaphors about the severed limbs of newborn children and the free-flowing arteries of ideas.
In this somewhat wide-eyed wanderer state, I turned to Flannery, sure of meeting understanding in the slight-framed heroine of my writing ambitions. Instead I received, over her round glasses, with that slight Southern sauce on the edges of her words, the plaintive remark: â€œI have to write to understand what I am doing. Like the old lady, I don't know so well what I think until I see what I say; then I have to say it over again."
Subdued, I am forced to smile and choke down two truths: Editors were designed to brace up the soul, fortify the mind and create distaste for sloppy first tries, and secondly, whatever else my girl Flannery may be, she is not one to say what one wants to hear. I think both will take me far, the first with my life, and the second, with my progress through The Habit of Being, a collection of Miss Oâ€™Connorâ€™s personal correspondence compiled by Sally Fitzgerald.
Lessons duly ingested, I think Iâ€™ll go set the machine to heavy-duty and put my blanket through another cycle.