I recently heard a writer say there is no such thing as good or bad writing. Our writing is as good as we think it is and we should bolster our spirits with this knowledge whenever we hit a roadblock in the publishing world.
I do not agree.
This is like the current elementary school trend of giving N's and S's instead of letter grades or the club sports systems that no longer hand out trophies or announce winners at the games.
Are we so worried about our self-esteem that we are willing to completely lower the bar and remove even a hint of competition or standards? Does it really make us feel good about ourselves when we don't have to work for anything at all?
I don't think so.
I think we will drown in a sea of mediocrity if we aren't careful.
I am NO GOOD at math or science. Even if I choose to apply myself, the concepts refuse to make sense to me, my brain rejects them outright, and I struggle. I never did well in math class. So what? Should I have been give an "S" because I tried?
I deserved the grades I got. I earned those. And my self-esteem didn't suffer. Know why? Because all those people with incredible left brain skills were put to shame by my creative writing and my ability in drama class.
I didn't hit the standard in math or science.
I set the standard in writing and drama.
Fast-forward to my adult years. I am a writer. I am not yet published. I don't feel bad about that because I am on a journey of improving my craft. Any writer worth their salt is always improving their craft in the same way I imagine athletes improve their skills with practice or a lawyer wins more cases the longer he/she practices law.
We can fearlessly label our writing with whatever term it currently deserves and move forward. I've written scenes that were incredible works of art. Good writing. I've written scenes that stunk worse than five-month old Swiss. Bad writing.
There is a standard. We cannot lose that, even on the days when it would make us feel better.
I refuse to be soft just to make myself feel better for a day. I'd rather see clearly and someday be published and know, when I see my name on the NYT Bestsellers list that I earned it. It won't be given to me to guard my precious self-esteem. NYT, USA Today, Hollywood studios buying film rights...none of them are concerned with my feelings. They just want great writing.
I will earn it because I worked to make bad writing good and good writing great.