Epiphanies Suck

I am listening again to Ann Hood’s Tin House podcast about “How to Write a Kick-Ass Essay” because I assigned it to my class. I’ve listened to this podcast before.

Then I had an epiphany.

I fucking hate epiphanies. They mean that you have to go back in and work. And you have to work hard. You didn’t do it right the first time (or the first 16 times). Writers are lazy. Otherwise they would do something more lucrative.

Today’s epiphany came from Hood saying, “Write about what you don’t know about what you know.” I believe she attributed Grace Paley.

The first part of my book is writing about what I know that I know. Now I gotta go back in and write about what I don’t know about that shit. It’s well written but facile.

What have you had an epiphany about recently?

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3 responses to “Epiphanies Suck

  1. I pretty much know that any piece I’m working on (that I consider serious work) is only prep work until I have “the epiphany” about it. Whether that be the theme I’m trying to achieve, or the character’s true motivation, or some controlling metaphor, or even the tone. Until that happens, I realize it’s all pre-writing for me. But once it happens, I can finally get underway. The trouble is waiting for/making it happen.

    So many bromides in this business. So many truisms and “absolutes.” The only thing I’ve come to accept as valid advice is that I can only write the stories I have in the way that I can write them. I guess that’s my personal epiphany.

    (Also, I’m always grateful for your provocative posts. They get me into a useful part of my mind, which is a pleasant change.)

  2. Like you and Paul, I never know what the essay or chapter is about until I’m well into the re-writing phase. The piece I just did on Kim Davis — totally surprised myself about my own thoughts by the time I got to the end. Who knew!

    Just got an email from an old classmate saying that it’s only now, 5 years after finishing (she thought) her grad thesis, that she figuring out what it’s about.

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