Are You a Good Writer?

This post, by Porter Anderson, originally appeared on Jane Friedman’s site.

What does the online writing community hand off to good writers?

 Good writers figure it out on their own.

No, this isn’t another hand-wringer about “Can Writing Be Taught?” But when I tweeted that “figure it out on their own” line the other day? The RTs went on and on.

A chord had been struck.

Or was that a starter pistol?

Since we’re all beginning to feel like volunteers at the London Olympics, I’m going to fashion this post as something of a relay. The baton of our shared thoughts here will pass from one writer to another. A quick 4×100. Ready…set…beep.

Off the Starting Blocks

Good writers figure it out on their own. Good writers develop a style that works for them. They write, they fail, and they write again.

This “self-immolating preamble,” as he calls it, is from Micah Nathan, author of this summer’s Jack the Bastard, as well as Losing Graceland, and Gods of Aberdeen.

The trick is prying apart the words, the sentences, the paragraphs, and seeing how it all works.

Nathan is telling us what we don’t always remember, but we do know: those good writers aren’t dependent on finding the Magic Blog Post or the Holy Inspirational Devotion that can transform the third vampire author on the left into Michael Cunningham.

Good writers intuitively know this. They certainly don’t need me getting in the way.

Nathan’s short essay is at Glimmer Train. Maybe it’s an anti-essay. (“I find these sorts of essays difficult.”) It’s called Selectively Stubborn. It’s been pointed out by Jane Friedman, host of the Ether and hashtag unto herself.

And it arrives at a time when we need gently to consider a kind of reckoning. No, a recognition. Well, maybe a recognition of what we’re not recognizing. A reckoning unreckoned. About this writing community business we engage in.


Read the rest of the post on Jane Friedman’s site.