One of my favorite writing quotes is by the poet Sharon Doubiago. Sharon was was once my mentor for a writing program called Split Rock. Sharon was a genteel, but sometimes hard, taskmaster. She could spread praise like jam on warm bread, but man, she would lean into my writing like no one else. Chastising me when she knew I was pulling my punches, telling me off when my love of metaphors threatened to strangle my work. I always knew the worse was coming when she would start an edit line with "Ms. Simpson, really you know better."
I love how she describes a successful work of literature:
A successful work of literature is one that fuses spirit and craft equally, has linguistic, emotional, psychological, intellectual, philosophical, aesthetic integrity, involves the full self of the writer, is more honest than clever, is not primarily an artifice, is not primarily from a program or formula, is not primarily for selfish gain in the world, brings pleasure which usually has to do with recognition, is more from generosity than hate (the exploration and highlighting of hate being part of the task, but as Wallace Stevens says “Love tips the scales”), is somehow a contribution to human survival (the writer’s as well as for all); is the best that it can be. It's soul work.
Some writers are born gifted in language. Their hurdle is glibness. Some writers stutter and stammer to the end; their hurdle is in saying it. A successful work of literature fuses the poles of muteness and the gods speaking."
I know I lean toward glibness. How does your writing roll?