Friday, March 28, 2014

The Mark of Good Writing

Creative Commons License 2.0 / Adam Groffman
Today I attended a panel of the English Symposium here at BYU called, "Write of Passage: Coming of Age Through the Personal Essay." As suggested by the title, each presenter read a personal essay centered on the theme of coming of age, although each approached the prompt very differently. Although all three were phenomenal, my personal favorite was entitled, “In the Passenger Seat” by ShelliRae Spotts. She spoke of the passage of time, road trips, and seeing her past reflected in her daughter, who was just learning to drive. The prose was thought provoking, smooth flowing, and beautifully written. Although she and I are at very different stages in our lives, the narrative still struck a chord with me and I felt nostalgia for the life I'm currently living, imagined from a life I haven't yet lived. I gained a new perspective, a vicarious piece of life, and I felt inspired to write something myself as I listened to her read. That's the mark of good writing, I think--to make people feel something, to move them, to inspire them.

As an English major seeking to emphasize in creative writing, I am immensely glad that I had the opportunity to listen to such inspiring and well-written narratives. I feel even more appreciative of writing as an art form, and more convinced of the power of words. None of the essays presented directly addressed the use of language within literature, but it was easy to see the influencing effect of using language deliberately. For my essay, it will be important to keep in mind that how I say something is just as important as what I'm saying.


  1. Thanks for attending, and I am glad that you linked this to your personal literary narrative. Hopefully, your interest in the personal side of literature (your own investment in reading, or the personal essay genre) makes writing literary criticism seem to have more of a purpose. They are connected.

  2. I liked how you noticed the importance of language -- that even though those essays didn't discuss language in a self-aware way, you were able to see the power of HOW to use language. HOW you say something can be just as important as WHAT you say. (See Krista's post about Lupin and Umbridge's teaching styles!)