Dear Miss McKee,
I am looking for an agent.
The novel, except for isolated chapters, is in no condition to be sent to you at this point. My main concern right now is to get the first draft of it done….
I am writing you in my vague and slack season and mainly because I am being impressed just now with the money I am not making by having stories in such places as American Letters. I am a very slow worker and it is possible that I won’t write another story until I finish this novel and that no other chapters of the novel will prove salable. I have never had an agent so I have no idea what your disposition might be toward my type of writer…
(Miss) Flannery O’Connor
(The Habit of Being, June 19, 1948)
If I had no idea who Flannery O’Connor was, this letter alone would have made me love her. I cannot imagine sending an inquiry such as this to a potential agent, although, granted, she was writing after winning an award for the still-in-progress Wiseblood and from Yaddo, a foundation that supported artists so they could focus on their art. I’m not sure if that shows how much I don’t know about writers and agents, or just how much spirit Flannery possessed. Maybe both. Either way, the agent agreed to handle her work.
So who was Flannery O’Connor? Well, she was born on March 25, 1925 in Savannah, Georgia to-
There are a variety of books out there that can tell you all of that. I’m hoping to do something a bit different here.
This isn’t going to be a biography or series of reviews. This isn’t going to be some literary critique or in-depth analysis. It will simply be a stroll; one woman getting to know another, one new writer trying to pick the brain and learn from a master of the craft. A conversation with someone who passed away over half a century ago, yet still hope to become acquainted with. A walk immersed in story.
I invite you to come along, if you are so inclined. Right now, my plan is to work my way through The Habit of Being, her two novels, and as many short stories as possible over the next year. If you have any suggestions on where to start, please share. If you have no suggestions but adore Flannery O’Connor, don’t keep it to yourself. If you can’t stand Flannery O’Connor, tell me why. The more, the merrier.
Let’s get walking.