Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Success in Writing

Kelly writes below that all that's required for success is to "be very good, work very very hard, get very very very lucky, and survive in the business long enough for people to notice."

I would agree on the luck, hard work and survival. But I have read a lot of bad books, often by successful writers, as well as mediocre books and skillful books that are simply boring.

Maybe these books are good in comparison to what doesn't get published. Editors have deeply disturbing stories about slush piles. It's hard for me to believe that there is worse stuff than what I've read set in type. But editors swear there is.

But if you are going to all the hard work of writing, you might as well try to write well.

1 comment:

Kelly McCullough said...

And my thought would be that in the subset of books that are successful even those books that look bad to you or I tend to look very good to some other subset of readers or they would not be successful.

I'm not at all certain there is anything that constitutes an objective standard of good and bad in art, only good and bad to subsets of those who read/watch/listen to/whatever the art. Now sometimes, that means that a piece of art is bad for everyone but the artist and maybe her mother but that's probably as close as you get to truly objectively bad.

I'm also open to the idea that art can be good or evil, but again, those are fairly slippery words which mean different things to different people.

Or, more succinctly, I believe that comparative worth is a really complicated thing that is hard to apply in a generalized or abstract fashion.