Writer’s charm

Last Tuesday, despite it being a weekday, I had the luxury of having a long brunch in the cozy back garden of a cafe. Good company, good food and all. Even the weather was lovely. The famous English summer wasn’t a total myth. Anyway, we two girls talked about everything, from the recently passed bill on media reform to emerging star authors in the comic books industry. And I don’t recall how, but I ended up confessing that I am quite indifferent to men who speak smoothly but I have a soft spot for men who write well. <blush>

In fact, it wasn’t much of a confession. I have always been vocal about how much I admire good writers. I almost worship the ground they walk on. And when I say this, I mean it regardless of gender, regardless of the media through which they write, and regardless whether they are professional or amateur. The friend then asked me to give her examples of my definition of a good writer/blogger. I couldn’t name anyone specific offhand. So, she rephrased her question and asked me instead if I thought of so-and-so as a good writer etc.

We soon moved on to another random topic, but I started to wonder myself if I ever had a set of criteria. The criteria I seem to have unknowingly applied were:

  • To be prolific: I used to be of the “quality-over-quantity” school, fantasising about the idea of an artist being remembered by one masterpiece, or his/her so-called “swan song”. However, the more I engage myself with writing, the more I appreciate those who have stamina and persistence to write a lot and consistently – someone like Isaac Asimov;
  • To convey messages in simple and short sentences (which I am terrible at);
  • To be able to mock oneself and to mock others in a tasteful way;
  • To have no typos, no punctuation errors and no misspelled words: This obsession is just one of my quirks;
  • To draw upon rich yet relevant anecdotes and analogies: Not a must but an advantage. 😉

Yet, this list still wasn’t enough to answer it when she added, “How come you consider K as a good writer but not J, whereas it is most likely that many people would say otherwise?” Curiously, this question stayed with me after the meeting. And only after having given much thought to it, I realised that those writers of whom I am a fan share a commonality that they have a reputation for living their words. Perhaps it’s not fair to insist that all writers live like how they write, but this is just a strictly personal preference. However brilliant a piece of writing is in its technique, it wouldn’t appeal to me much unless I were convinced that it is in sync with the author’s real life – or at least the author makes efforts to live by what he/she puts into words – independently from whether I, as a reader, agree ideologically. Once again, this is an entirely subjective range of criteria. Or rather, I guess this is something I aspire to reach one day.

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