Many years ago, when I was stumbling through the halls of higher learning, I took an unfortunate course in Euripidean tragedy. (It was something less than good reading.) My instructor, an older man named Pollard, who was friends with the redoubtable Jean-Paul Sartre, took me aside after class one day and gave me some advice. He told me to get the hell out of those hallowed halls before the establishment taught me how not to think. I did. I do not regret that decision. I do, however, regret not getting to spend more time with Pollard. He was a thinker.
Because of a lifetime of writing and reading, even while engaged in other pursuits, I am sometimes asked my opinion on what makes a good writer. That’s a lot like being asked what makes a good dog. Four legs are good. Two eyes, ears, a nose. A wagging tail is nice. Alright, that's enough of that. What attracts some of us to a three-pound, remote controlled dust mop and others to a drooling paddle-footed Behemoth comes under the general heading of taste, and that is extremely personal. I cannot dicate your taste, but I will offer some ideas and thoughts on the subject that might resonate with some of you that write, or want to write, or cannot stop writing. You know who you are.
If I had to come up with some simple things, one of them would be “function over form” I suspect. Another would be to tell you that if you want to sharpen your writing skills, read.
The answer as to what makes a good book is simple. Good reading requires a good writer.
I have some thoughts on what makes good reading if you’d care to take a peek.
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