Writers: What’s your guilty pleasure?

Reading time: Less than 1 minute

This is my weekly installment of “writing about writing,” in which I scan the world to find websites, books and articles to help other writers. Today I discuss a blog post by Kristine Kathryn Rusch…

I don’t read sci fi or fantasy or (usually) mysteries. This fact may explain why I’ve never before encountered the work of author Kristine Kathryn Rusch, (pictured above). Nor can I remember how I found her blog.

But after re-reading her post on the topic of “bad” writing, I can say with certainty why I made note of it. She is a sophisticated thinker.

Rusch points out that the curation of books — via publishers, universities, bookstores, and libraries — has had many downsides. In addition to shutting out “alternative” voices, it has also led us to create false classifications of excellence — what we like to call “good” writing.

Here’s what Rusch has to say about that idea:

We consumers don’t seem to have that problem in other areas of our lives. We know that some of us prefer jeans and t-shirts to suits and ties. We know that some of us like pink and some like dark blue. We know that some of us love pizza and the rest of the world is wrong. I mean…oops. You get it, though. We’re accepting of differences in taste in a wide variety of things, from clothing to cars to restaurants.

We’re not as accepting in the world of art and entertainment. We often apologize for the things we love. We call them “guilty pleasures,” because we know that someone will judge us on the things we adore. Really, though, we’re talking about pleasures. The things we love are the things we love. Full stop. The end. We love them. They have value to us.

My favourite genre is memoir. Fortunately (for me) there is no snobby association with memoir as a unsophisticated form of artistic expression. But imagine if I admired romantic fiction? What would you think, then?

I agree with Rusch that what we love, we love. Full stop. There’s no point in applying labels like “good” and “bad” to writing. De gustibus non est disputandum, or, in English, in matters of taste, there can be no dispute.

An earlier version of this post first appeared on my blog on Dec. 3/18.

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