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letters from the other side


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Letters from the Other Side:
The Gift of Flannery O’Connor

For My Fellow Writers (a poem from the book)

Would you be right shocked
if I told you I was blessed
with total non-retention
and could quickly forget
sharp criticisms of my work?
You forget rejections too,
pay no mind to them,
go about your bidnis.

You’ll be right smart
to listen to a few people you trust
who are honest, will suggest
deleting an adjective or two,
or help you decide what stories or poems
are fitten for your collections.

I don’t  reckon I would have
written as much or as well
without help from friends
and fellow-writers such as
Eudora Welty, Faulkner, and
Katherine Anne Porter.

My region was the South,
so I wrote what I had an ear for,
Know your region, its flavor,
characters and dialect.

You will write a story or poem
when you have one to write.
One story a year was a good
average for me;
some of my drafts looked like
chicken scratchings but I wrote  and rewrote.

Sit at yr machine every day
same time, same place;
something will come when you’re messing
around with this and that.

I wrote to the end –
able to work only an hour or less a day,
writing in bed most of the time
or pushed into the typewriter
to drag another sotry out of myself
than to rewrite and polish,
send to friends for critiques.
Although low on energy,
I read the Bible and newspapers,
got strength from gifts coming in,
from Masses and prayers.

I had to get that collection out
and I did.
You will too.

© 1998, Kay Saunders