Is this relatively compelling?

I was interviewing a junior writer the other day and I suddenly realised I’d said something awful. Something along the lines of ‘good writing is compelling’.

After she left I went up on the roof, faced north to Narvik and roared like a bull walrus suddenly aware of his walrusness.

When I came down I asked myself what I had actually meant. I mean, how much of this business have I ever found genuinely compelling?

The first two pages of As I Lay Dying? Compelling.

Brian Hanrahan counting all the Harriers back? Compelling.

Zinedine Zidane nutting Marco Materazzi in the chest during the World Cup final? Very compelling.

A four-page leavepiece aimed at rehab consultants, built on approved client messages?

I suppose it’s all relative.

Faulkner, or Zidane attacking Materazzi, is absolutely compelling. That leavepiece, written well, produced on Colorplan by Pentagram and delivered by a flirtatious orang-utan in a Daks suit over dinner at Chez Bruce would be relatively compelling.

Tell me I’m wrong.

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