Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Good Writing

I don't rememeber having a favorite book when I was growing up... although I read alot, there wasn't anything that stood out. In all honesty it wasn't until I was a teenager when I got my hands on three books that I found something that I really liked. The first one was called "Bloods" by Wallace Terry, and the other was 'Pimp: The Story of my Life by Iceberg Slim", and of course "The Autobiography of Malcolm X".

Other than that I read magazines.

I'll never forget my journalism teacher Bill Parks telling us "If your going to write, you gotta read, and read the good stuff..."

That is a statement that has perplexed me for years.

What is the good stuff?

I've tried to read all kinds of different authors, but in the end you know what, I can't get into it, because to me, it's just layers and layers of language that doesn't speak to me. Maybe it's a cultural thing. I remember this guy I used to work with a long time ago named William Lo, I used to go on and on about Malcolm X's books, one day I showed it to him, and after one page he said, "This is garbage, this is awful."

I couldn't understand how he could say such a thing. After all, it was the best thing I had ever read.

He pulled out one of his favorite books - don't ask me what it was, I can't remember, but he read a little bit of it out loud. I couldn't understand what in the hell the writer was saying. It was English, but he went into too many descriptions and poetic like language that it didn't appeal to me.

I use that example because I believe that writing - like music, is an art, what is trash to me may possibly be beautiful to you. I like Fela Ransom Kuti, you might like Justin Timberlake. My God may be your devil. I was clearly over 25 years old before I could appreciate Jimi Hendrix, hell I'm damn near 40 now and don't have the slightest bit of appreciation for Bob Dylan. I hate his voice.

All that to say if you like what you read then it's good writing. If it speaks to you and resonates with you - it's good.

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