by Greg Schutz
“Character is action.” “You are what you do.” These adages are behaviorist: they imply that identity is reducible to externally observable data. They argue that the question of who we are—always the topic, in some sense, of literary fiction—is answerable in terms of the impact our actions have on the world around us. Like the ubiquitous Show, don’t tell, they take a common problem and offers an overcorrection. They advise us to steer into the skid of interiority, bringing the story out of a character’s mind and into the external narrative world. Furthermore, such thinking is corrosive to the very moments in literature I find most compelling, moving, and meaningful. They repress the particular species of felt experience I hunger for as a reader, and which I seek to capture in my own work.