What does that mean? I wondered, sipping my coffee, distracted by the dog clawing at my face. If it sounds fussy? Overworked? Baroque? Non-Hemingwayesque? Too Hemingwayesque? If it doesn't sound like common conversation? If it uses large, pretty words? If it's structured?
You know what sounds like writing, to me?
And as I sat there, brooding on the old unknown world, I thought of Gatsby's wonder when he first picked out the green light at the end of Daisy’s dock. He had come a long way to this blue lawn and his dream must have seemed so close that he could hardly fail to grasp it. He did not know that it was already behind him, somewhere back in that vast obscurity beyond the city, where the dark fields of the republic rolled on under the night.
Gatsby believed in the green light, the orgastic future that year by year recedes before us. It eluded us then, but that’s no matter — tomorrow we will run faster, stretch out our arms farther.... And one fine morning —So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past.[Swoon.]
You know what else sounds like writing to me?
All can be measured by the standard of the capybara.
Everyone is lesser than or greater than the capybara.
Everything is taller or shorter than the capybara.
Everything is mistaken for a Brazilian dance craze
more or less frequently than the capybara.
Everyone eats greater or fewer watermelons
than the capybara. Everyone eats more or less bark.
From Sandra Beasley's delightful and hilarious poem, "Unit of Measure." Swoon again, differently (and with more caution about accidentally swooning onto a large rodent).
Over the past few years, I have repeatedly heard the word "writerly" used as a pejorative. Why?
That's about as far as I got with my thinking. But it's apparently one of Sarvas's pet peeves, and he does a nice job of slicing and dicing the idea:
What one presumes Leonard is saying, given the other dumbed-down rules on his list, is that he eschews what we commonly refer to, for want of a better term, as lyrical prose. One imagines he would have John Banville [ed's note: dreamy sigh is mine], Joseph O'Neill and Teju Cole busily erasing their manuscripts. On the other hand, if he doesn't mean that, perhaps he means writing that, because it fails - because it is, essentially bad writing - feels "written". So, basically, fix bad writing. Thanks a whole heap, Elmo.