What is good writing?
Is it the kind of thing that makes you think? Does it change the way you view the world and make you want to undo all the wrongs you've ever done? Does it make you wish you could go back and do more wrongs than you did, just for the sheer, beautiful regret of it all? Does it make you laugh, cry, wonder, gasp in surprise?
Or does it simply make you glad to be alive?
I was just thinking about the difference between "good writing" and "bad writing" after reading an article in the SLC Examiner about author vs. author slurs over the past several hundred years. (It was actually pretty funny, but also harsh at times.)
I know I've been guilty of hating on fellow wordsmiths in the past, even those who are much more experienced and well, published, than I am. (In fact, it's usually those ones I hate on the most in my pithiest moments.) But then I started thinking. (A dangerous pastime for me, and often a large consumer of my time I'm afraid.)
Why do we (writers) feel that someone else has to FAIL in order for us to SUCCEED? Is there some kind of indelible, widely-published writer's "Law of the Jungle" or something that states we must either kill or be killed just to sell books? And whenever someone markets their project in a certain way or writes a certain manner of fiction at a certain time and happens to hit the big time, why do we all (myself included) feel the need to tear that person down out of jealousy? Where does it say that there is a finite number of authors who can become internationally known in such-and-such period of time? It's not like a marathon, where every person who crosses the finish line before us counts as one less place we can attain in the overall ranking. At least, I don't think it is.
In reality (in literature) whenever an author hits it big, that person is probably paving the way for other authors more than he/she is shutting them out of a chance for future success. Just look at Dan Brown. When he started being the next thing in books, a TON of others who'd been writing the same sort of hidden cypher mysteries for ages finally got noticed. And Stephanie Meyer (though a non-favorite of mine for quite some time) did seem to manage to get young teenage girls--as well as a few closeted boys--to fall in love with reading again. In the long run, those changes will probably HELP future authors more than they'll hinder them.
So what is this obsession with arguing over whether a bestselling writer's work is "deserving" or not? Obviously, they did something right. And if (God willing) I'm ever in the position of someone like Dan Brown or Stephanie Meyer, I'm sure that I'll appreciate not being called a hack just for the sake of assuaging some burgeoning young writer's wounded pride.
Actually, it's a lesson we can all apply to most things in our lives. Instead of hating on someone for their successes (that you don't have), instead of counting it as a fail on your own part and a win on theirs, maybe chalk it up to a win for the whole human race. "Yeah, go team humans!!! Woooohooo!!!"
Anyway, I just thought I would share that. With myself as well as the rest.
Have a great, positive day!