Today I finished the section of One Writer’s Beginnings called “Listening.”  In these last few pages I read about trips to the library, listening to visiting evangelists, and getting along with brothers.  Not a dull sentence to be found.


The part that really grabbed me, though, came near the end:  “Of all my strong emotions, anger is one of the least responsible for any of my work.  I don’t write out of anger.  For one thing, simply as a fiction writer, I am minus an adversary—except, of course, time—and for another thing, the act of writing itself brings me happiness.”


This particularly caught my attention because I’ve been wondering why Welty avoided writing about racial tensions at a time when there were plenty to be found in Jackson, Mississippi.  I find myself pondering the question even more as the sentence about not writing out of anger is followed by this:  “There was one story that anger certainly lit the fuse of.  In the 1960s, in my home town of Jackson, the civil rights leader Medgar Evers was murdered one night in darkness, and I wrote a story that same night about the murderer (his identity then unknown) called “Where is the Voice Coming From?”


She goes on to say that while she was prompted to write the story by her anger over the death of Medgar Evers, the writing itself was not driven by anger.  It was driven by the craft of writing itself.


This is such a revealing tidbit.  The lead-in to this in which she muses over how her father was always calm no matter what tells us much.  She did not write out of anger, and she could not recall ever seeing her father act out of anger.  While others of her day felt it their duty to write the anger, perhaps she felt it hers to refrain from doing anything, even writing, as an act of anger.