Having written about why we shouldn't compare ourselves to any other writer, good or bad, published or unpublished, I was reminded of talking with someone recently about their work. The writing was fine. It wasn't badly written, the grammar and sentence construction good, there was pace and flow. The story situation was interesting, the description okay, the action had drama. It was fine. But...
It was bland. There was no energy. There was no edge. And above all, the characters were neutral. The writer put them through the motions in a competent way, but there was no flair, no verve in the writing. It was all rather well bred, well composed. It was polite. Beige, I suppose.
And beige isn't interesting. The worse book I've read recently (more accurately, part read) was The Shakespeare Secret. It's not good, and I've written why elsewhere in the blog. But no one could accuse it of being bland - if anything, it's the opposite. It's so colourful and pacy, reading it is like being hit repeatedly over the head with a rolled up newspaper. Ditto other not-so-well-written books that have come my way.
So perhaps that's the answer to the bad writing conundrum. It gets published because it's not beige. Instead, it's a rainbow confection full of colour and life. Not my cup of tea, maybe, but at least it's got energy. Meanwhile, the beautifully behaved book that will never scare the horses sits quietly and politely in the slush pile.