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Reflections of a working writer and reader



The Flowering Dream

A writer’s main asset is intuition; too many facts impede intuition. A writer needs to know so many things, but there are so many things he doesn’t need to know — he needs to know human things even if they aren’t “wholesome,” as they call it. Every day, I read the New York Daily News, and very soberly. It is interesting to know the name of the lover’s lane where the stabbing took place, and the circumstances which the New York Times never reports. In that unsolved murder in Staten Island, it is interesting to know that the doctor and his wife, when they were stabbed, were wearing Mormon nightgowns, three-quarter length. Lizzie Borden’s breakfast, on the sweltering summer day she killed her father, was mutton soup. Always details provoke more ideas than any generality could furnish. When Christ was pierced in His left side, it is more moving and evocative than if He were just pierced.

From: The Flowering Dream: Notes on Writing by Carson McCullers, published in Esquire, December 1959

3 Responses to “The Flowering Dream”

  1. M.E Ellis says:

    Mutton soup. That kind of thing fascinates me.


  2. The mutton soup detail always fascinated me too. I think it was the detail that broke the camel’s back – the day Lizzie Borden “took an axe” the soup had been re-heated for the third day running – (according to a dramatisation I saw on tv).

    I’ve never seen these writings by Carson McCullers. Thank you.

    jb says: Someone might correct me but I believe the mutton was over a week old and had, indeed, been served three times. I’ve even heard it suggested that the breakfast may have been a motive for the killing.
    And McCullers’ writings, yes, always worth looking at. The novels are imprinted on my memory.

  3. bloglily says:

    John, Thanks for the link to the entire piece. It’s Monday morning here, and I’ve got work to do, but I’m saving up the whole thing to read later as a reward for being diligent now. Okay, okay, I did skim the article — I couldn’t resist — and came across this gem: “My lawyer has figured out how much I made from the book The Member of the Wedding, and it is, over the five years I worked on it, twenty-eight cents a day.” And now, I’m off to earn a living so I can finance my writing habit. xo, BL

    jb says: Carson McCullers, for someone who was ill most of her life, was a very sharp lady.