What follows is something I wrote for an application to join a database of freelance writers. I don’t know what got into me. They asked for 150 words on what constitutes good writing. For reasons that now escape me, this is what they got:
The usual suspects shuffle to the fore, ashamed and shy, avoiding each others’ glances. Of course we must have accuracy, flexibility, a knowledge of what we are trying to achieve and who the reader is going to be. Of course we must have reliability and punctuality. Douglas Adams could get away with missing deadlines, the majority of us cannot. Being an established bestseller can excuse a great deal, guaranteed sales soften late submission. Spelling and grammar must be tools we are comfortable with while remembering always David Crystal’s dictum that the only true crime against grammar is ambiguity. And at all times we must be mindful. Mindful of the requirements of the client, the requirements of the piece and above all else, our own limitations. What makes a good writer? Honesty? Maybe. So it is with that thought in mind that I give my true answer: Damned if I know.
I don’t think they’ll be asking for my services in the near future. I particularly like the Delphic remark about grammar which I have attributed to David Crystal who never did me or mine any harm. I have no idea what got into me.
On the other hand, it is exactly one hundred and fifty words.