As a writer you’re allowed many passes. Most people that read your work will in fact enjoy it, because most people are not writers, and have no idea what makes a poem “good,” outside of their own, unique tastes. This does not negate their opinion, but there is a huge difference between an…
My first question would be as follows: What makes one person more qualified to give an opinion than another? All opinions, educated or otherwise, have validity and education is certainly no guarantee of higher understanding. As for writers being better informed on writing than readers…this, I’m pleased to say, is rubbish. Any good writer must also be a reader, and although he or she may have been taught to dissect both the creative process and the result minutely, it doesn’t naturally follow that he or she will know better writing than someone who hasn’t. It all comes down to interpretation. What I like, others may scorn. Not everyone is going to feel the same way that I do about a particular thing, but just because I have a Degree does not make my opinion the correct one. If the average reader can see no difference between the informed writer and the uninformed, then perhaps there is no difference other than that which the “informed” writer would like to imagine? And I would hasten to add a cautionary note to the author, or indeed follower, of such rubbish. One writes and it is sent out into the world. One cannot choose one’s audience. It would be better not to alienate one’s prospective audience by declaring that your work is too good for them to understand. Writers are little without readers of any supposed pedigree.
This brings me to my second point. Being taught how to write is perhaps the biggest threat to writing that exists. A person cannot be taught how to write. If you can write, you do it. You may learn how to improve yourself (and you could hardly be called a good writer if you aren’t willing to learn, as the writer here suggests) but if you don’t have what it takes, you certainly cannot learn it. Criticism is necessary to artistic development, I agree, but I also think it should be remembered that criticism is just another form of opinion. And, really, there is no right or wrong opinion. Not a definitive one at least. No one person, be they educated or not, has the right to assert his or her opinion as the ultimate in such a fluid situation as art. If you need to be taught how to write then you are not a writer. A person learns to write through reading and reflection, and by saying what one has to say exactly as he or she wants to say it. That is all. Remembering that could potentially save a body quite a lot of wasted money.
Imagine that being taught to write is like growing vegetables in a greenhouse. Some varieties are better suited to it, but most won’t thrive indoors and those that do tend to be more delicate and susceptible to disease. Therefore you could say that learning to write (through practical application) is comparable to growing vegetables outdoors in their natural environment. Yes, it’s more risky and there is always the threat of frost and pests, but that which is grown outdoors will be hardier and taste all the better for it. Adversity, you see, is the key. In my opinion, being taught how to write does not make better writers, any more than growing vegetables in artificial conditions makes better vegetables. Consider this: how many of the greatest writers of the past were taught how to write? Then also consider this: how many of our authors today, with the so-called advantages of literary education, can equal those of the past in quality and longevity?