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2.3: Writing is Subjective

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    Let’s start with this: writing is subjective. Let’s also start with this tweet by Dan Martin:

    "I try to teach students to let go of the notion that good writing has a universal definition or that anyone can define what good writing is or can be for every situation." @danmartin_7

    How can one claim that writing is subjective? Well, for one, no one can agree on ONE author or one book that is truly THE BEST of all time. Sure, people will argue that they can. Your high school English teachers might’ve adored X,Y, and Z. But that’s their opinion. My favorite writers haven’t been part of the mainstream. They are different. They have affected me in ways that I’ll never quite comprehend. That’s what makes them the best to me, and you probably like completely different authors and books, too. Where does young adult literature fit into all this? Where do graphic novels? See? It’s subjective as hell!

    What can we do, if writing is subjective and doesn’t have PERFECT rules then? We just practice the genres we know. We give it our best shot. We just learn new things and practice them and then practice some more.

    Sunday September 28, 2008\(^{16}\)

    On Ellen the other day, Kid Rock\(^{17}\) made a few anti-iTunes statements which I found interesting. To paraphrase, he said people shouldn't have to pay the same for every song because some are worth more than others. He then used the example that pricing a garage band's song the same as a Bruce Springsteen song was ridiculous. Now, I can sorta see his point; however, who can decide that? I mean, it's so subjective. If I had my way, then, everything I think is crappy should be 49 cents and everything I think is awesome is 99 cents or more. Anyhow, I think the statements were made after he promoted his songs on a site that were free or something. Ellen said she agreed with him, but there was an awkward pause in her reply which leads me to think she agreed so he wouldn't bash an empty beer bottle over her head.

    Posted 9/28/2008 at 3:11 PM

    Wednesday May 23, 2007 

    David Eggers:\(^{18}\)
    - "I had great teachers. I had fantastic teachers, all the way through school. At least I was encouraged by them. I never had an English teacher who said no you've got to fit in this category and you've got to write this way."
    - "I think it's always the great killer of any potential writer if an adult says no it's got to be this way, this is how it's done, five paragraphs, topic sentence, introduction, conclusion, whatever. I think that the teachers we learn a lot from really untether their students and let them go at it from whatever angle they feel they should. The last thing you want to do is impose any kind of paralysis before they get started."
    - "I think that once students know you're serious and once you're setting an example where you're being honest and you're saying you will not be judged, you will not be chastised, there's no wrong, that's where you get the most incredible writing. We've gotten it out of every conceivable student. […]"
    {from his keynote at an arts and humanities summit at NDSU}

    Posted 5/23/2007

    Tuesday February 5, 2008 

    Can you truly love something/someone if you've never hated something/someone? Can you know a "bad" person if you've never known a "good" person? How do we know when life is being fair, if we've never known "unfair" circumstances? If my sister claims I am so lucky, she must know what it is like to be unlucky? Right? I consider myself "open-minded," but can I describe what it is like to be "close-minded"? The first question was part of the BIG topic in today's Creative Writing class. A few students claimed to not/never having hated anyone (as our poem topic asked them to do: Write a poem from the P.O.V. of someone you "strongly dislike, and are morally or physically repelled by."), and I didn't believe them. Am I that cynical or are they "full of it"?


    Posted 2/5/2008 at 4:11 PM




    \(^{16}\)You may see old blog posts of Sybil’s throughout the book. They are used to punctuate or emphasize the lesson in the chapter. They are licensed CC-BY.

    \(^{17}\)Yes, Ellen and Kid Rock are imperfect humans, but this blog post gets at the idea of subjectivity. 

    \(^{18}\)This is from his keynote at an arts and humanities summit at NDSU (Fargo, ND).

    This page titled 2.3: Writing is Subjective is shared under a CC BY-NC-SA 4.0 license and was authored, remixed, and/or curated by Sybil Priebe (Independent Published) via source content that was edited to the style and standards of the LibreTexts platform; a detailed edit history is available upon request.