This is the second installment in our series of reflections on the nature of “good writing.” For Thomas Garcia ’16, Princeton Writes‘ Social Media Coordinator, writing at its best inspires, vexes, connects, and destabilizes – the four horsemen of the written word.
Good writing inspires. When I picked up a tattered copy of The Sea-Wolf in the 7th grade, I did not expect the one-hundred-year-old words to give me chills. An abiding spirit was imbued in the sentence flow, the foundation of the plot, and the characters’ intricacies. This spirit epitomizes the immortal nature of the writer, who never truly dies as long as the words live on. My relationship with the book turned me into a mindful writer; I write well not only for myself, but for the readers residing in a time yet to come.
Good writing vexes. If words are eternal, why should writers play it safe? The imagination produces emotions that linger, scars that never truly heal. Allowing this creative force to take on the form of complex characters generates fictional, yet authentic, people. I can clash with Ahab and debate with Hamlet because they are as real as the library patron sitting next to me, albeit in the form of words.
Good writing connects. When my eyes meet the ink, I can traverse realities, cross nations, enter minds. The writer, far removed from the time and place of my reading, feels close. The prose invites me to foray into the workings of the writer’s mind, dark corners and all. Flipping back and forth between the pages containing the writer’s spirit, I see patterns emerge; the use of words and phrases and the incorporation of themes call to mind the humanity of the faceless friend, the intimate conveyor, the sensible wordsmith, who wrote the book I hold in my hands.
Good writing destabilizes. Fearless writers delve into the unknown. Words serve as the gateways to serendipity. I sit by the lake, but my mind is in Middle-earth. I walk the uphill paths of Princeton University, but fond memories of Hogwarts flash before my eyes. And no matter how often I arrive at the intersection between reality and fiction, the latter always enlightens the former.