Monday, July 7, 2014

Good Writing

The night is quiet and peaceful.  The stars are out, shining brightly over us all.  I feel grateful for all the good things in my life.  Tomorrow when I wake up, I will move into my purpose as I have been doing every day, but tonight I am grateful for the silence around me.  I am even more grateful for the silence within.  Not only is the night quiet and peaceful, but so am I. 
Sitting here, in this wicker chair, I can only feel gratitude for the privilege of writing.  Do others feel this way when they are in their Purpose?  Do they realize what a privilege, what a gift it is, to be able to follow the heart?   Do they realize the power of doing something meaningful every single day of your life, sometimes several times a day?  As I sit here and write, I sometimes wonder why I want to do anything else.  Being with my Muse is so perfect.
I’m writing now for the sake of writing.   I’m writing as an act of self-discipline.  A self-disciplined life is a much happier life; at least it is for me.  I’m watching Breaking Bad.  I know it’s been out for a few years, but I’ve never been much of a TV watcher.  I’ve heard so much about this show that I decided to watch the first season.  I’ve only seen six episodes, but the writing amazes me.  Each of the characters is believable and there are some twists in the story that make me want to be a better writer. 
I still have a philosophical issue with sitting for hours in front of a television or computer screen living life vicariously through other people’s situations, but I can see why this show is so popular.  As I said, it makes me want to be a better writer.  What would make me feel that I was a good writer?
First, my work would need to be compelling.  That is, people would not only want to read it; they would almost need to read it.  I think in fiction this might be easier, because everyone would want to know how the story ends.  This doesn’t excuse non-fiction writers though.  Can I write in such a way that people will really think about what I’ve said and want to know what I’m going to say next?   In order to give more, I have to take in more.  This is why I love reading.  It gives me new ideas.  It feeds my creativity.
The second quality of good writing is originality, that is, I have something new to say.  The problem with having a single theme (Purpose) is that I have to be sure I’m not repeating myself.  Curiously, many of my ideas come as I’m writing.   As I’m writing, and sometimes this takes a while, a new thought comes into my head.  Sometimes it’s a variation on something I’ve said before, but often it’s an entirely new idea.  For example, the idea that my life is perfect came while I was writing and I just followed that idea. (   It’s always a joyful experience when a new idea occurs to me.  It’s like getting an unexpected and welcome gift every time.  New thoughts are fun.
The third quality of good writing is that is accessible.  That is everyone, at least most people, can relate to it.  The message or the story or relevant, no matter how old it may be.  It might even be universal, that is, everyone can relate to it.  That may be highly ambitious, but many writers have done this.  (I don’t make this a goal, by the way.  I just write as well and as honestly as I can and hope I reach as many people as possible.)
The fourth quality is inspiration.  Does the writing motivate me to do something, even if it’s only to think more deeply?  Reading Rod Serling’s Twilight Zone series when I was 14, or Kurt Vonnegut when I was 15, calmed and quieted my soul.  It was as if nothing else existed but the writing and me.  (Interestingly, I read Vonnegut’s Breakfast of Champions out of anger because my English teacher, Mr. Wheelis, said I wasn’t mature enough to read it.  The gauntlet had been hurled and within the next year, I read five Vonnegut books.)  Reading these changed my perspective on life.  I understood that, just as comic books had shown me, there really are whole new worlds, but this went deeper.  I wanted to create my own worlds.
Am I a good writer?  I think so.  I genuinely enjoy my own work, not because I wrote, but because of what I’ve said.  My work meets my list of necessary qualifications, at least for me.  It makes me want to be a better man.  It makes me want to Get Started and Keep Going.