I find it odd that we try to measure such weird things. Like art. Art is not quantifiable. You either “get it” or you don’t. You either like it or you don’t. What I think is crap someone else thinks is awesome.
We apply the same goofy measurements to writing. True, there is a difference between “poor” writing and “good” writing – is the noun properly placed in the sentence? Does the subject stay on point or does it meander like a drunk on a three day bar-crawl?
But outside of grammar and spelling, most of what we judge to be a “poorly written” piece vs. a “well-written” piece, is a matter of taste. I like Lovecraft. My husband does not. He likes Howard. I do not. They were both authors writing at the same time, for the same pulp mags. They knew each other, communicated often and seem to be friends, if one is to take their letters at face value. But their styles are quite different.
Food is the same thing. Unless your chicken is still half-raw after being cooked (and it’s not supposed to be half-raw), who is to say that Chicken Cordon-bleu is any better or worse than Chicken and Dumplings? And whose recipe are we talking about, anyway? Because my Grandma is always better than yours (I don’t really know that, since I never ate either of my grandmothers’ cooking, but that seems to be a bone of contention for a lot of people).
Does this mean one is “better” or “more valuable” than the other?
And yet, as we assign status to such ephemeral things that are almost wholly a matter of taste, we ignore those things which should be strictly measured, standardized and quantified. Like, say for example, the garment industry.
Depending on the brand of whatever dress I am buying, I’m a size 14 through a 20. Small, Medium, Large, XL, XXL, or XXXL mean nothing. A t-shirt from one brand could be labeled as a XXL and be so tight across my bust-line that I could conceivably enter a wet t-shirt contest and win bone-dry, while another t-shirt of the same “size” is big enough I could use it for para-sailing.
“Katty, what is your point, exactly?”
Well, what exactly makes for “good writing”? Beyond the grammar and spelling? What constitutes “Note-worthy” or “Artistic”or “Award Winning” versus “Meh?”
I’m just sort-of pondering this today because the Hugo Puppy riots of a few weeks back and the nasty debates of self vs. traditional publishing and vitriolic articles and blog posts and the various and other accolades and nasty reviews I see and whatever lately makes me wonder –
Says Who, Exactly?