Reading Notebook #18: There’s More Bad Writing Than Ever

From an interview with Clay Shirky over at the Barnes and Noble Review:

I’ve always adopted the Bill Burroughs mantra, which is, “If a thing is worth doing, it’s worth doing badly.” Which is to say that if there is any intrinsic value in writing or expressing yourself or taking a photo, it’s worth doing even if the results are mediocre. Whenever the production maw has opened more widely, whether it’s cheap photography or it’s weblogs, the average quality falls. The average quality of a piece of writing is now lower because the denominator has exploded. The question becomes how do you find the good stuff in this much larger group. I am not somebody who believes everyone is equally talented; talent remains unequally distributed. What’s interesting now is that the old gatekeepers for identifying, anointing, and promoting talent are different in this generation than they were previously.

Read the full interview.

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Posted in Getting Published, Reading, Writing Advice.

Jane Friedman (@JaneFriedman) has 20 years of experience in the publishing industry, with expertise in digital media strategy for authors and publishers. She is the publisher of The Hot Sheet, the essential newsletter on the publishing industry for authors, and was named Publishing Commentator of the Year by Digital Book World in 2019.

In addition to being a columnist for Publishers Weekly, Jane is a professor with The Great Courses, which released her 24-lecture series, How to Publish Your Book. Her book for creative writers, The Business of Being a Writer (University of Chicago Press), received a starred review from Library Journal.

Jane speaks regularly at conferences and industry events such as BookExpo America, Digital Book World, and the AWP Conference, and has served on panels with the National Endowment for the Arts and the Creative Work Fund. Find out more.

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