I awoke early, thinking of hubris and of writers. And then, of that quality of writing which generation after generation calls great writing. It was too early to think. So, I looked this stuff up. Hubris, of course, is a personal quality of exaggerated pride or self-confidence.
Great writing, though, is difficult to Google. Typing the letters “great writing defi” into the search bar caused Google to suggests that I change my inquiry to “good writing definition.” Continuing on to “great writing defin,” I received the prompt, “great technical writing definition.” Meaning, Google knew my question but had no answer. I persisted with “great writing definition” and was rewarded with page after page of results for the definitions, qualities, characteristics, and essentials of -you guessed it- “good writing.” WTF?
Google assured me there are “about 820,000,000 results” for my inquiry, no combination of which even pretended to answer my question. So much for Google University. Time to seek the answer elsewhere.
Here is good. Writers ought to be able to define great writing.
But first, to hubris. We see it every day on TV and social media, people with little or narrow understanding telling all of the world what to think, feel, say and, for us writers, what and how to write. And that’s just the sincere people, the ones who know their lives would be better if we all just worked harder to make their lives better. Hubris, an exaggerated sense of self-importance.
The opposite of Hubris is Sophrosyne (σωφροσύνη). Meaning, “an ideal of excellence of character and soundness of mind.” I didn’t even try to Google that concept.
Writers, of course, deal with the world as it is by writing fiction. Whether our writing is great, or even good, is determined by what readers think of it. Writing may be the only profession where greatness is determined by people who know only what they want from make believe worlds.
Which brings us back to great writing: How, do you think, can we write such that generations of readers will want to pass on what we have written?