Later that year, that same freshman girl took a class about the concept of reality. It was in that class that She became more and more like Me. The professor of that course didn’t believe in assigning grades, and, for the first time in my life, I had the chance to learn entirely for the sake of learning. I wrote an essay (with no length or structural requirement) describing how I felt about the concept of reality; by the semester’s end, I ended up with some stuff like this:
“Although sensory experiences are necessary for our own experience of the world, it is the process of sharing experiences that helps to mesh individual perceptions into a larger truth of experiences are “real.” Thus, to refer to the age-old question that we harped on in class: if a tree falls in a forest and no one is there to see/hear it, does it make a sound? Without any sensory confirmation of the falling tree, how can we know if it even exists at all to make a noise? Based on this logic, it seems reasonable to assert that the tree only comes into existence when a human experiences and perceives it; in other words, the reality of the tree relies on human recognition of said tree.”
I struggled with these concepts, and, through writing, wondered:
“I may initially believe that something exists and is real, but without the collective confirmation given by those around me, it is impossible to be sure. But this gets to a deeper question: are there some permanent underlying particles that constitute reality and exist regardless of this process of sensory experience and confirmation?”
I continued to show signs of intellectual struggle, grappling with heavy ideas that I had never grappled with before. By the end of the paper, I was able to continue questioning and say:
“Individual perception and interpretation are the only means of forming a view of reality, and without those aspects, reality as we know it ceases to exist. Perhaps, however, there is another way to interpret reality, and instead of a lack of reality beyond human perception, there is some other reality that we simply cannot perceive that exists beyond human interpretation.”
I know that I spent many hours with this essay. Thinking, researching, writing, rewriting - really using the paper as a channel to learn and discover something new. The language is still not perfect; the tone isn’t how I would have written it today; but the paper is something both Past Me and Present Me can agree is a much better work of brainpower. She and Me were really coming together.
Because Good Writing is just good thinking.
And the writing you and I both enjoy reading is evidence of that statement as truth. Whether it’s a funny satire in The Onion or a Paul Krugman article on the economy, you can just tell that writing is good because there is a good thinker doing some good heavy mental lifting behind the keyboard.
Sure, a writer could have a nicely polished piece of prose with excellent grammatical form and impressive words, but if that piece of prose doesn't challenge the writer to think and rethink, and write and rewrite, then the final result simply cannot be “Good.” At least not by my definition.
To recap for you: Good Writing should be hard, and can only come from a place of deep thinking. The prose is only as strong as the argument it is applying to.