What’s Writing For

Published : Tuesday, August 28, 2007 | Label:

What makes writing worth writing—and reading—is what the story or the poem achieves beyond the tale it tells: its music, its wisdom, its form, the way it makes the ordinary world beautifully strange. A good tale is only good, in other words, if the telling is sound and memorable. It’s the voice and mood, the arc and flow, the poetry of the writing that endure when the storyline fades.
Literature doesn’t aim to tell anybody anything. To tell a story or make a poem that makes sense, of course, you’re going to have to convey some information. But that’s not really what the work is for. Creative writing makes art out of the stuff of life, it makes it out of the words we speak, and it’s for whatever art is for.
How a piece of writing becomes a work of art—a plain but unforgettable thing—has everything to do with the integrity and humanity of its voice and the elegance of the work’s composition.
—from The Little Red Writing Book, p 150


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