Gratitude at last

I have come to see gratitude as primary among the spiritual virtues, the wellspring, as it were. I also think it makes a suitable subject for my last column in the Faith Matters series.

Gratitude is very much a part of the writing process, but unfortunately much of it is hidden from the reader, who encounters a finished poem or story but not all the pages full of false starts and scribbled revisions. Once, as an instructional tool, I read from Dakota to a group of high schoolers as I stood next to a pile of manuscript pages that came almost to my waist. I showed them pages marked with sharp comments from my editor (“this sounds fatuous,” “this doesn’t go anywhere”) and also the intense, line-by-line workings of a copy editor. My audience was fascinated but appalled. All of a sudden writing, which had seemed so romantic, came to look far worse than English class.


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