There must be a way to escape [mediocrity] even when you know you are even below it. Perhaps knowing you are below it is a way to begin. I say I am equal with it; but I am below it. I will always be staggering between Despair & Presumption, facing first one & then the other, deciding which makes me look the best, which fits most comfortably, most conveniently. I'll never take a large chunk of anything. I'll nibble nervously here & there. Fear of God is right; but God, it is not this nervousness. It must be a joy. Every virtue must be vigorous. Virtue must be the only vigorous thing in our lives. Sin is large & stale. You can never finish eating it nor ever digest it. It has to be vomited. But perhaps that is too literary a statement - this mustn't get insincere.
How can I live - how shall I live. Obviously the only way to live right is to give up everything. But I have no vocation & maybe that is wrong anyway. But how [to] eliminate this picky fish bone kind of way I do things - I want so to love God all the way. At the same time I want all the things that seem opposed to it - I want to be a fine writer. Any success will tend to swell my head - unconsciously even. If I ever do get to be a fine writer, it will not be because I am a fine writer but because God has given me credit for a few of the things He kindly wrote for me. Right at the present this does not seem to be his policy. I can't write a thing. But I'll continue to try - that is the point. And at every dry point, I will be reminded Who is doing the work when it is done & Who is not doing it at that moment. Right now I wonder if God will ever do any more writing for me. He has promised His grace; I am not so sure about the other. Perhaps I have not been thankful enough for what has gone before.
Flannery O'Connor in A Prayer Journal, pages 22/23