Flannery O’Connor had to “write to discover 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.”

I have little in common with Flannery, much as I’d like to, except this requirement to write until I know what I’m doing. O’Connor’s stories were “as nearly perfect as stories can be,” as Robert Giroux said. Elizabeth Bishop said her writing was “narrow, possibly, but they are clear, hard, vivid, and full of bits of description, phrases, and an odd insight that contains more real poetry than a dozen books of poems.” I aspire to this in my nonfiction.

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