Tag Archives | Latayne Scott

The Epic Nature of Great Fiction

Today’s post by author Latayne Scott of our sister blog, Novel Matters | @NovelMatters

A dear friend once told me that people must “once and for all, give up the doctrine of coincidence. ” What he meant is that when unexpected incidents or ideas happen to occur concurrently or in proximity to one another, you must reject the idea that such things were random and should instead look for a divine hand, and divine messages.

Such a coincidence happened to me recently. I’ve been exploring the idea that the building of faith and character comes in three phases (and, in my own life, in the midst of painful experiences.) The middle phase is one in which victory seems absolutely impossible.

The “co-incidence ” of ideas—or perhaps, a collision of concepts –came when that idea of the phases collided into a passage I was reading from The Odyssey. If you’ve not read it lately (or at all), it is the very essence of great novel structure: a good person has everything, loses it and even seems to become beyond hope of ever regaining it.

In the middle of the story, a great monster, the Cyclops, has eaten some of his men and when the hero Odysseus sails away from him, the beast roars out at him across the waves:

Hear me, Poseidon. . .grant that Odysseus, who styles himself Sacker of Cities and son of Laretes, may never reach his home in Ithaka.

But if he is destined to reach his native land, to come once more to his own house and see his friends again,

let him come late,

in evil plight,

with all his comrades dead,

 in someone else’s ship,

and find troubles in his household.

But when Odysseus does get home, all is set right. He dispatches the spongers who have been trying to seduce his wife, regains his estate, and lives happily ever after.

But—the satisfaction of following him through all his troubles (as indeed the curse of the Cyclops came true), comes exactly BECAUSE he lost everything — except hope.

Here’s the great truth that hit me: The greater the obstacles, the greater the rotund and satisfied feeling we have at seeing the resolution. That’s a timeless idea.

What novel have you read lately that overcame obstacles in such a satisfying—shall we say epic?—way?  

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The Redemption of Time – A Novel Matters Guest Post

Many of you know that my husband has been hospitalized since December 1 with a vicious axonal variant of Guillain Barre Syndrome. Though much to build faith has come through this period of time, some things have been lost.

Tonight, for the first time in months, I held one of my grandbabies, little Even Tayne, in my arms and rocked her to sleep. I marveled at the fact that she went from seven months old, to nearly a year old, in a period of time that was lost to her and me, while I lived in an ICU, or stayed all day and into the nights at a long-term acute care hospital, or perched in a chair at a rehab hospital. All that time this little girl was not in my arms, she grew from the inchoate communications of a seven month old to the wise eyed and laughing sweetness many pounds heavier against the muscles of my chest and arms.

When I used to rock her older sister   Scottlyn Eyre  to sleep, I marveled at how such a strong and intelligent human being would yield so completely to me, relaxed and almost conspiratorial against me in the rhythms of the darkness, steam still rising from the hair on her just-bathed forehead, her breath that of graham crackers and apple juice and murmurs and sighs. I knew, every moment I knew as I rocked her, that I must treasure this time, that it would fly away with days and years.

As I write these words, I rescue those moments from loss. I snatch them back from the chasm of oblivion. I share with God the buying-back of what is gone forever; I partake with Him in the redemption of time itself.

If writing has no other purpose than this, if it has no other audience but the writer, it is one of the loveliest and most gracious gifts of God.

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