>Manifesto: a preamble

>Every writer knows good writing when we read it….except when it comes to our own writing. Why is it so hard to know what’s working in our own writing? Why is it so easy to be confused, to not see exactly what our creative act has actually produced, and to be completely clueless as to how to judge whether it has merit?
A friend asked me today to define what I considered ‘good writing.’ I was completely stumped. Not that I didn’t know all the classic attributes: freshness, clarity, unique point-of-view, and of course all the basics like good punctuation, spelling and sentence structure (no dreaded dangling anythings). I began to trot out a few of these but then stopped because they sounded silly to me. And frankly, I didn’t actually buy what I was saying. I realized I was just repeating what I’d been taught without really thinking about how any of it applied to my own art.
He has suggested I write a manifesto, minimum 3,000 words, in which I set down personal ‘ good writing’ rules, at a minimum as an exercise to start learning what I value. (And hopefully have a better answer for him the next time around).
At the moment, I only know what good writing is not.
Good writing is not writing what I think other people want to read. While it’s one thing to write with an audience in mind, it seems dishonest to ignore what I need to say, regardless of what I think an audience might like. Even when I try to write what I think other people (specifically editors) want to read, the writing wanders around like an inept street musician, busking for quarters with a set list of lifeless tunes. People’s tastes differ so, that even trying to guess what someone might like to read, what might ‘sell’, sets me off in the wrong direction— in fact —many wrong directions all at once, eliminating any possibility of coherence from the get go.
So that’s the first thing I know. I may have to continue to explore this negative aspect (what good writing is not) to get closer to throwing light on what good writing actually is. What I think good writing is.
And – okay I’ll just have to say it. While YOU may be reading this blog, I for once am going not to worry about what you may want think of what you find here. This time, it will be all about me. Bonus if you get something out of it.

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