Seeing the handwriting makes the pursuit so much more real

One of the cooler things that’s happened this vacation has been getting time to explore the raw materials of two great writers. Nabokov’s The Original of Laura and Flannery O’Connor’s Prayer Journal are both long-posthumously published books, and with each, “book” is a stretch — a good one.┬áBoth documents are works in progress, plans and sketches for bigger ideas, greater self expression set in times of personal change.

The former is a set of Nabokov’s index cards for an unfinished book, cards you can even pop out of the bound pages and reorganize if you like. He never finished the book because he died. The latter is copies (transcribed in the book as well as in their original form, just as with the Nabokov book) of a notebook O’Connor kept as she studied writing. She was 21 and the journal entries aren’t prayers but instead her grappling with how to pray.

The never-completed pages of both left me wanting more — again, in a good way. Each gave me a day’s worth of distracted thinking, distracted from daily life but focused on what these writers were trying to create.

Nabokov (transcription comes below each index card):

O’Connor (transcribed text comes earlier in book):

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