There’s nothing like reading to make you realize a few things.
- What’s good is subjective to individual readers. This means that you are simultaneously a creative genius and master of prose, and a complete hack who has no business being published. (i.e. some readers will hate you, some will love you)
- While the mechanics of writing can be learned, passion and creative vision cannot. The latter is also subjective to each reader.
I have read boring, lackluster, cookie cutter books by people who write very well. You might even say they’re masterful in the way they write their prose. But they’re terrible storytellers who write stock characters I find trite and predictable. I have also read books by authors still learning their craft that are wonderful, engaging, fresh, and enjoyable (minus some grammatical issues and typos). I’m one of those readers who will tolerate some typos and errors for a good story, and I won’t just love a story because the prose is perfect. There are readers who likely feel opposite this. They would prefer clean stories and will sacrifice storytelling for pretty prose.
I saw a meme going around among some of my FB artist friends that talked about skill. How when people say they wish they could “draw like that” that what they really meant was that they wished drawing was easy. The meme went on to talk about how no one was born with talent and skill is learned. To this, I both agree and disagree. Yes, skill is learned. A skill like writing (or art or music) can be learned. But having an imagination, passion, and creative vision is something you either have or you don’t. Your work either exudes your passion or it doesn’t. You can’t learn imagination, passion, or creative vision. You’re born with it. That right there is what separates successful artists/writers/musicians from the rest.