Thursday, October 18, 2012

Excellence v. Mediocrity

Novelist Athol Dickson has posted an article on his site, discussing excellence v. mediocrity in writing.

It’s true many novels by Christians are poorly written. That’s also true of many other kinds of novels. In fact it’s true of most novels of every kind, but it’s not a particular indictment of mediocre writers or the readers who enable them. Most people don’t really care about excellence in architecture, sculpture, painting, or dance . . . or government, commerce, marriage, or anything else in life that ought to matter.
What interests me, is why. In our discussion about the “Worst Books” list, some of my author friends speculated that so many people dislike those novels because they were forced to read them in school and disliked them then. But these books truly are works of genius—most of them are, anyway—so why didn’t we love them in the first place?
It's a thought-provoking read, not only for writers who happen to be Christians, but for any writer who strives for excellence.

As an editor, I am constantly confronted by the "good enough" work of fellow writers who just want me to sign off on their manuscripts rather than helping them shape those manuscripts into polished books. The constant fight to challenge other writers toward excellence can be wearisome, but it's not a fight I can ignore.

Just this past week, I had an e-mail  conversation with a rookie novelist whose work is being published soon. He acknowledges that it needs more crafting, but it's been praised so highly by so many peopleI was his only negative reviewerthat he's going ahead with publication, because (as he put it himself) it's good enough. 

Not to sound overly pessimistic, but I've been feeling like the "lone voice crying in the wilderness"and then I read Mr. Dickson's eloquent, thought-provoking post. I'm dropping a copy into my archives so I can pull it out whenever I need encouragement. Or a kick in the pants.

1 comment:

friv juegos said...

The novelist Athol Dickson, I have heard so much about it now but I Really do not have time. But very curious when I will have time to explore.