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Welty continues to offer sage advice along with compelling stories from her childhood in this first section of One Writer’s Beginnings.  She says, “Long before I wrote stories, I listened for stories.  Listening for them is something more acute than listening to them.”

 

She describes the women who visited her mother and how they would talk on and on in monologues the likes of which later became the model for her own story “Why I Live at the P.O.” 

 

Regarding the time she found out that her mother had lost a baby before she was born, she has this to say:  “The future story writer in the child I was must have taken unconscious note and stored it away then: one secret is liable to be revealed in the place of another that is harder to tell, and the substitute secret when nakedly exposed is often the more appalling.”

 

In recalling her mother’s reaction to the time she missed the word uncle in a spelling test, she surmises, “It was never that Mother wanted me to beat my classmates in grades; what she wanted was for me to have my answers right.  It was unclouded perfection I was up against.”

 

Indeed.  This is shaping up to be a prime example of a childhood that shapes a writer.

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Someone asked me today what it was Welty said about living a daring life, so here it is:

“As you have seen, I am a writer who came of a sheltered life.  A sheltered life can be a daring life as well.  For all serious daring starts from within.”

This comes at the end of her memoir, One Writer’s Beginnings, and it has long been one of my favorite quotes on writers and writing, or on life for that matter.  Indeed.  It all starts from within.

August 2019
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