On Writing

Flannery O’Connor:

There is a great deal that has to either be given up or be taken away from you if you are going to succeed in writing a body of work.

Habit of Being, 176.

I doubt good ol’ Flannery had golf in mind, but that’s how I feel it.

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  • To begin with, you started off with a typo. And maybe the quote needs a little context.

    From p. 176 of The Habit of Being:

    “You may well be right about L. I’ve never met him. He reviewed my stories for Today . . . and sent me a copy and there begunst a correspondence . . . all his stories are about the War or some facet thereof. And my notion is that The War is all he’ll ever have to write about and that The War is over. However, the story you read is not the best of his. The others have a certain power in the prose which the one in FQ lacked entirely. He writes poems too and sent me one but I didn’t know if it was any good or not . . . Also [his circumstances] are a handicap to being a writer in this day and age. There is a great deal that has to either be given up or be taken away from you if you are going to succeed in writing a body of work. There seem to be other conditions in life that demand celibacy besides the priesthood.”

    Where golf enters into the picture is entirely between you and your Maker.

  • scotmcknight

    Well, Bob, you never seem to go away. I can count on your presence to point out something, if never positive.

  • RJS

    Exercise is good … it enhances creativity and concentration.

    Golf is exercise (but preferably forgo riding in a cart).

    Therefore golf improves writing.

    More golf = more success.

  • Matt Stemp

    “A handicap to being a writer…” – sounds like a natural golf -> writing transition to me… 😉

  • scotmcknight

    RJS, I try to convince myself of that logic but instead I convince myself to say put at the desk, and Flannery would be most happy, and she might find me a grotesque character on a golf course.

  • Back to Flannery’s observation in context, do you think celibacy might improve your golf game?

  • RJS

    excuses, excuses.

  • DRT

    I get more exercise in a cart than walking the course. I hit, drive a little, walk all over the place to find my ball, hit, walk all the way back to the cart. Too tiring.

  • DRT

    But in true JC fashion, let’s talk about the ball instead.

  • Bev Mitchell

    But how to find time to write with all the reading writers have to do? Hey, maybe that could be a rap. Would that count as exercise? – assuming one could do the movements. I remember a time when our all white mostly German and Ukranian Pentecostal choir had a substitute gig during black awareness week in Edmonton. The mass choir finale was a challenge for some – even though many in our choir played golf. I’ll go away now.

  • Writing is therapy for me–it comes from experiences. I do not feel I am giving up anything to write. I keep blogging about my husband’s Alzheimer’s because this body of work helps me as well as others. Hopefully it brings glory to God.

    Bev, above, I also write raps and two are on that blog you can get to by clicking on my name.

  • Bev Mitchell


    Thanks so much for the reference. The top article there right now is outstanding. I recommend that everyone read it “15Things Care Givers Can do to be Joyful”. This applies to all of us for we are all caregivers when we think about our responsibilities toward others.

    The very first of the 15 things is “Give up your need to always be right”. If we could only …..  “Usually we don’t need to be right, just reasonable.”

    May the joy of the Lord continue to grow in you as you serve him.

  • So good, Bev, “just be reasonable”! I am going to put your comment on my blog. Writing is indeed a joy, not a chore, because, hopefully, we keep growing in grace and knowledge of our LORD and can pen what we are learning: JUST BE REASONABLE, NOT ALWAYS RIGHT!