aprilhenry (aprilhenry) wrote,

How badly do you want to write?

Today is the birthday of the novelist and short-story writer Flannery O'Connor. She was almost rejected as an applicant for the Iowa Writers' Workshop because the admissions interviewer couldn't understand her Southern accent.

At IWW, people didn't know what to make of her. She had never read any of the fashionable writers of the era. But her fiction impressed everybody, and she won an award that got her a contract to publish her first novel.

O'Connor was still rewriting her novel in 1950 when she began to notice a heaviness in her arms while she typed. It turned out that she had inherited lupus, the same disease that had killed her father.

She moved in with her mother and forced herself to write for three hours every day on the screened in porch of her mother's house. In 1955, she published the story collection, A Good Man Is Hard To Find which contains her two most famous short stories: "A Good Man Is Hard to Find," about a silly, annoying old woman whose entire family gets murdered by a man called The Misfit, and "Good Country People" about a pretentious young woman whose wooden leg is stolen by a Bible salesman.

Her lupus grew worse. She published one more novel, The Violent Bear It Away, in 1960. She worked on her last book of short stories in the hospital, keeping the manuscript hidden under her pillow so that the nurses wouldn't take it away. She died a little more than a week shy of her 40th birthday.

If I were dying, would I hide a manuscript under my pillow? Would you?

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Tags: what's under your pillow?
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