Thursday, May 7, 2009

On Realism

For the past couple weeks, in the midst of the insanity of existence, I've started writing again, which is wonderful. And I'm not really sure why, but I started working on a novel, a realist novel. Having not written within the confines of realism since grad school & blatantly autobiographical work, I thought it would be fun, a new challenge perhaps.

But what I've found is, whereas I am writing (I've averaged a couple pages per day for the past couple weeks, give or take a page or two here and there) efficiently and the work is ok, I'm not having fun. Realism doesn't seem to be a constraint that fits with me.

So I wonder how others work with realism. I'm so much more comfortable with my world of two-headed mermen and old cat ladies.

Also, check out FC2's blog. There's a new podcast there with my personal hero (and editor) Kate Bernheimer. She's reading from the newest installment of the Gold sisters. It's pretty exciting. Hearing her blog last night, I immediately wanted to throw out all that realist crap I'd been working on and start playing again. I want to start enjoying what I write.

Do you think writing realist fiction is inherently unenjoyable? Probably not. Maybe it's just me. Maybe I'm wired the wrong way.


  1. i did pretty much the same thing you did; desperately tried to reenter the realism of grad school. i made it about 14k words in, trudging, before i said fuck it and went to just writing whatever comes out. i think realism could be fun if it is what 'just comes out,' but if you have to lean for it, as we did, it just ain't gonna feel right :_)

  2. i agree with you, blake, but here's the thing. we were both--as most people who go through mfa or even undergrad cw workshops--trained to write realism. somewhere along the way, we got off track, but we were *taught* realism and the components of realism (plot, dialogue, character development, etc.).

    how is it now that what i was taught (& it wasn't even that long ago that i was taught) seems so foreign and just plain wrong?

    i guess in all fairness, it didn't feel "right" back when i was writing realism.

    maybe one day we can trade: your 14k for mine? we can finish each others' mss. & see how bizarre that can be...