Jump to: Navigation
As the speed of modern life increases, as we become ever more immersed in our technologies, as the boundary between our professional and our personal lives becomes blurred and then erased: in the midst of this headlong acceleration, many people feel the need to slow down, look around, and figure things out.
For most of its history literature has taken the form of epic poetry. This history is long: five thousand years, perhaps much longer. And within the genre of epic poetry – from the Egyptian Pyramid Texts to Homer to the Kalevala – every word counts. The rhythm counts. Resonance and fluidity count. No slack exists in these texts, no lazy meanderings of phrase or structure. These ancients texts are spare, clean, and tight. We could learn a great deal from these archaic authors. There are reasons for the enduring quality of their texts.
The oldest and greatest poems, epics, and songs – the original roots and branches of all literature – are articulated visions. They are dreams, glimpses of other worlds (real or imagined), archetypes of clear seeing. This clarity of vision defines good literature, and is therefore the ultimate aim of practicing writers. Yet various impediments arise to obscure our sight, the way a bank of low-lying cloud hides a shoreline glistening with pebbles. As writers, sometimes we become disoriented by the many conflicting tools of our craft, by contrary examples and advice, by the spinning compasses of style and voice. Our path becomes uncertain, the shore distant, vision muddied.
This is a short list of considerations to use when seeking to write well. Review the following items in order, after writing the first draft of every sentence.