What is good writing? I’m in the presence of good writing after I write a draft, then polish, scrub, polish, scrub, delete half of it and still love the rest. It’s when I read the same piece the next day and don’t hate it.
Good writing is when I open a vein and distract myself until something major comes out. It always does.
Good writing is when I read a piece over and over again and get so into it that I forget what day it is. Good writing is a moment that comes and then is gone just when you were both getting to know each other.
I thought about the mystery of good writing when I continued my fruitless search for an article I wrote about The Great Gatsby that appeared in the San Francisco Bay Guardian sometime in the 1990s. I loved that piece. I can’t find it anywhere: not in my files; not on the website’s archives.
My high school junior English teacher, Mr. O’Brien, taught us the ins and outs of The Great Gatsby. He also taught a certain love of reading and taste for pictures, images and feelings in good writing. It’s all in the article, somewhere.
One day, I’ll find that article again. It’s worth a re-post, if only to get back into the moment one more time.