My mom has a certain criterion for whether a movie is good or not. Actually, we as a family have a criterion: if Mom stays awake through the whole movie, it's good. If she doesn't, it's not. By this measure, there are way more bad movies than good in the world, but that's not what I'm talking about today.
Whenever my mom is describing a movie she likes, she'll say, "It's a good story." My whole life, this has been the most important factor in evaluating the movies I watch. Is it a good story? As I've gotten older, the Good Story scale has also bled over into the books I read. It's how I decide how much value a book has for me. Is it a good story?
When I say good story, I don't mean plot or narrative structure or the try-fail cycle or any of those other mechanical terms we learn about in writing classes. It's more subjective than that. It's something you feel. It's the moment where you say, "Oh! Okay. Someone else out there gets it too."
Anyway, a few months ago, I was talking to Janiel - okay, I was whining - again about how hard and frustrating (discouraging, soul-sucking) it is to write a book. Finally she said, "So why do you write?"
I didn't have an answer at the time. I had to go in a corner and think for awhile. Seriously, why was I doing this to myself? There had to be a reason, beyond my pathological compulsion to finish everything I start.
And there it was: I wanted to tell stories. Good stories. I wanted to add my own to the vast canon of human imagination. Granted, they might be retellings of stuff that's already out there, but so what? All those Good Stories haven't been around this long for nothing. You'll find that they crop up just about anywhere, once you start looking: a poem, a song, ancient myths, scripture, a rerun of 3rd Rock from the Sun, I could go on . . .
It's true that I don't always enjoy writing, but I do it because I love Good Stories. I believe my book is one such Good Story, even if I want to strangle it sometimes. And so I will keep at it until it's done.
We know my reason, now let's hear yours. Why do you write? And what are some of your favorite Good Stories?