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What Makes Writing Good?


After over twenty years, I’ve seen a firefly. Big deal you say. Well, for me it is indeed a big deal. The last time I recall seeing fireflies was around 1984 when an amiable old B movie actor was in the White House making Russians nervous, and Berkeley Breathed’s “Bloom County” was educating the masses as to the finer points of politics. Bill and Opus, Two For America!! The Beak and Saliva Ticket!!!

 It was a rough time as well as a glorious time considering that during the eighties I was in the midst of full blown teen angst fueled by the high octane hormones that come with the appearance of puberty. While I sure as hell wouldn’t want to relive such a period of my life, and maturity has made certain such naïve but fun antics as jumping through campfires never happens again, advancing age has softened the blow by allowing me to fondly reminisce without having to recall all the bitter pieces.

What’s really strange, however, is how something so simple as a smell, a taste, words, or in this case a firefly, can trigger a complete change in our thought processes. It’s as if our minds are a record player and someone has come along and bumped the needle to another track in mid song. Whatever we were thinking, whatever we were feeling, is somehow pushed aside as a flood of feelings and memories wash over us, taking us on a ride we have little control over and little inclination to stop if we wanted to.

What this lone firefly managed to do, was instantly transport my mind to another time and place and invoke feelings and memories long forgotten simply by flashing his little light in the hopes of attracting a mate.

 It occurs to me that this is something many good writers do to us and that what really makes them good, is that they can do it almost at will.


This article has 3 comments

  1. Paedra 09/30/2011, 3:36 pm:

    Your post is educational as well as motivational. I’d love to be able to write better, more creatively, faster. It takes me a whole day to turn around one post for my blog – its daunting. Sometimes the posts fall behind, simply because I cannot muster the time or energy to write an engaging article. What’s your advice?

    • paul novak 10/20/2011, 1:38 pm:

      Thank, its appreciated. Pretty late reply, but I’ve had little time to maintain this place due to work. I’d feel a bit hypocritical offering advice on turning out posts regularly, but as far as writing when you don’t feel the motivation goes, I usually take the “slog ahead and bull through it” approach. I’ve found that a lot of my writing, both work and for fun, has its most personally pleasing results often when I am simply forcing myself to write. Usually it’s a matter of just picking a subject and not second guessing, then running with it. If after the first paragraph I’m not pleased with the results, I trash it and pick something else and run with it until it clicks. It’s not often that I actually have to just walk away from a piece because the words won’t come. They do. They just need some bullheadedness once in a while to get them moving.

  2. Patrick Huff 08/31/2012, 2:58 am:

    Very well wrtten. Your writing is inspirational and clever. I will have to check out your other posts.

    P.S. I found you through the Blogger linkedin group.

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