And then I realized …

I’m just now getting around to reading (by that I mean ‘not scanning,’ but really and truly reading) this book on writing that was assigned my first semester of grad school.  In Charles Baxter’s Burning Down the House: Essays on Fiction, he digs into the problems that plague current fiction.  One of my favorite essays thus far is “Against Epiphanies” which reminds me of a classmate’s reaction in workshops to the word “realize”  (Eric, you know who you are! :-).  Baxter argues that we writers have grown lazy.  The need to wrap things up with some revelation inevitably leads us to end our short stories and novels with a tacked-on Aha! moment, when everything we’ve learned so far as finally, finally added up to some great knock on the head.

Why can’t we write a story for the sake of the story itself?  Why does there have to be some great revelation?  Eric, you were right.  Every time I read a book or see a movie where someone says, “And then I realized …” it ruins the whole thing.

Baxter quotes Raymond Carver:  “What good are insights?  They only make things worse.”  This will be my mantra as I write this week.  Not to “realize” anything at all.

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