Thursday, March 13, 2014

This In-Between Month, (Later On) Day 25: Heals As It Cuts

I got up earlier than I wanted to go to the DMV as my driver's license will expire while I am in Haiti. The line was wrapped around the back of the building when I arrived and I braced myself for a long morning of waiting. Waiting without coffee. But the entire process is now automated. It took me 3 minutes. I got back to my rental car before my coffee cooled. Winning!

But yet, for whatever reason, I was one of two people to use the automated machine. The waiting room was to overflowing capacity with disgruntled drivers, faces contorted in disgust. One man ranted how all this technology was some conspiracy of paper conservation at taxpayer expense. He said this, holding ticket number one million forty-five out of about a billion and was still mumbling under his breath as I danced joyfully out the door. Well, I felt like dancing.

Now at a coffee shoppe I am lost in the words of Flannery O'Connor. If I have never mentioned her to you before I am sorry. I would quote her here but everything she said or wrote should be quoted. Get thee to a bookstore, a computer, or the library and read her. The Habit of Being is a collection of her letters. That's a good place to start. And Mystery and Manners: Occasional Prose is great too. Her fiction is the best of American Southern gothic. Full of freaks and Jesus and deep mystery and eternal truth. She has the kind of razor wit and effortless grace that heals as it cuts. I seriously want to just quote her for an hour. I cannot find one phrase that rises above the rest when they all fly so high. For every writer out there, please, please read what she has to say about writing. She is a master and her wisdom is invaluable to your craft. To the Christian and the truth seeker she speaks with a clarity and a poetry that seers into the soul. To the reader and lover of fiction she captures in both narrative and dialogue that which is elementally human having been twisted by misery, wrung through the ringer of life and having resisted all their days Grace. She shows us the grotesque we will become without Christ. Wow. 

My driver's license will be mailed to my parents in 14 days. I will have been in Haiti for a week and a half by then. Some of the people in line with me this morning may still be sitting in the purgatory of the DMV waiting room. God help them.

Anyway, I finally found some quotes by the irrepressible Miss O'Connor that I'd like to share. Quotes about writing. Enjoy!

“The serious writer has always taken the flaw in human nature for his starting point, usually the flaw in an otherwise admirable character. Drama usually bases itself on the bedrock of original sin, whether the writer thinks in theological terms or not. Then, too, any character in a serious novel is supposed to carry a burden of meaning larger than himself. The novelist doesn't write about people in a vacuum; he writes about people in a world where something is obviously lacking, where there is the general mystery of incompleteness and the particular tragedy of our own times to be demonstrated, and the novelist tries to give you, within the form of the book, the total experience of human nature at any time. For this reason, the greatest dramas naturally involve the salvation or loss of the soul. Where there is no belief in the soul, there is very little drama. ” 

― Flannery O'Connor, The Habit of Being: Letters of Flannery O'Connor

“There is something in us, as storytellers and as listeners to stories, that demands the redemptive act, that demands that what falls at least be offered the chance to be restored."  

― Flannery O'Connor, Mystery and Manners: Occasional Prose