ok, clearly i am avoiding doing any real work, like reading for my chinese politics class. but anyway, i just emerged from Little Red Schoolhouse, my writing class for the quarter, and was struck by something on the cover of the handout re: writing:
"Begin at the beginning," the King said, gravely, "and go on until you come to the end; then stop." Lewis Carroll
that, together with Neil Gaiman's advice to people who ask him how to be a writer:
Tell a story you care about about people you care about, and make the reader care what happens to the people in the story. Let your message come second to your story.
seem to encapsulate what makes people good at writing. good in the sense that people care about what your characters are doing and why they are doing it; in the sense that your writing means something to other people, makes them think, makes them laugh, establishes a connection between the text and the reader. it's not just about why you write but who you are writing for: who your imaginary reader is, what he is going to care about, and why. but ultimately, the story comes first. and how it begins, and how it ends.