“Good taste is the first refuge of the non-creative. It is the last-ditch stand of the artist.” ~Marshall McLuhan
Writing is a bi-polar occupation.
It can fill you with pride, confidence and satisfaction that you never thought you’d feel (ask any author how it felt to hold that first book in their hands) and it can make you feel unworthy of teaching basic composition to second graders (for more on this, ask an author who gets a rejection letter or a scathing review).
Since the release of my first novel in 2009 I’ve had the pleasure of getting to know many authors and I haven’t met one yet who hasn’t ridden that roller coaster of emotions.
Some jumped off and went in search of pursuits with more predictable results, but most of them hung in there and ran back to get in line for another ride.
I guess that’s what separates the men from the boys.
Recently, an author friend of mine sent a manuscript to a prospective editor. Said editor has a very impressive resume and my friend was looking forward to his reply. I will let her tell you the specifics (click here), but suffice to say that he was less than complimentary.
No – that’s being nice…he was only slightly above insulting.
The response he sent (I read it) was very polite, and professional, but it wasted no time, or words, in telling her that he, and I’m paraphrasing here, wouldn’t touch her book with a ten-foot eraser.
As I read his response I wondered how she would react to it. Believe me; it would have discouraged a lot of up-and-comings…
She said (paraphrasing again) that she was taking his comments as suggestions of ways in which to improve her book, not as an excuse to quit, because she felt that she was a good writer regardless of what he said.
That is the kind of attitude you need if you want to call yourself a writer, because as sure as you’re sitting there, you will encounter people who don’t like your work. They will tear it down like it isn’t worthy of lining a bird cage.
They’ll tell you, in every way imaginable, that you aren’t a good writer.
Being a “good writer” is an imaginary and totally arbitrary title.
Writing is an art-form, and as such its quality, or lack thereof, is completely based on the taste of the reader.
Like listening to music or looking at paintings, one man’s Led Zeppelin is another man’s Van Gogh.
Point being…there is an audience for every style. The thing to remember is that writing the book is the easy part—finding your particular audience is the real challenge.
You are a good writer…and a bad writer…we all are – it just depends on who you ask.
As always – Thank you for reading