Hey V here. Like most writers, I read. A lot. Really a big lot. Even with twin preschoolers, I read for fun everyday. I’ve studied Literature; I’ve read a huge variety of things. I’m confident that I can identify an author I like, one I consider to be a Good Writer. Of course, Good Writing is a subjective thing. Someone I think is a Good Writer might be considered absolute rubbish by another person.
But I like to find Good Writers for another reason, too, beyond enjoying the fruits of their labor. Here’s today’s secret right up front: I like to figure out what it is about the writing that I think is good, and hopefully emulate it. To that end, I have hit a career goal this week.
I made myself cry over a passage I wrote.
Now, many people who know me will think, duh, she cries at Hallmark commercials! And those coffee commercials around the holidays where the college son comes home unexpectedly…I cry every time I watch Gone With The Wind, read Knuffle Bunny Free to my kids or hear a certain Christmas Carole about a cat who freezes to death warming a mouse on Christmas Eve. Seriously, I have to skip it on the CD, can’t handle it at all.
My husband will attest that I cry at the most ridiculous movies, Wall-E, GI Jane, Return of the Jedi. He actually keeps a box of tissues in the man-cave in case I need one watching something on the fancy TV. And I cry reading books ALL THE TIME, usually late at night while lying in bed so that my nose stuffs up and dribbles attractively. I often determine how much I like a book by its effect on me. If I laugh out loud or cry, then it’s a good book. If I do both, it’s a great book.
But I’d never made myself cry over something I wrote before. I even went back and re-read the passage a few paragraphs later to see if it was a fluke and I squeaked out another tear. I was so proud.
How do you know that your writing is good stuff?