Given that there are six billion of us, and the majority have access to writing implements, it shouldn’t surprise me as much as it does that there are so many really superlative writers—and so much really bad writing. Now I know that all aesthetic judgments are to some extent subjective, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t a lot of consensus or any standards. Any prof can tell an A term paper from a D paper. I have often been tempted to annotate a student’s paper by quoting Truman Capote’s snarky comment on Kerouac’s books: “That’s not writing, that’s typing.”
My wife always told her students in her composition course that she wouldn’t have to teach them most of what she was teaching them if they only read once in a while. This is so true. How can you do anything well if you haven’t seen it done well? It is the epitome of presumption to write for anyone other than yourself if you don’t read. There would be a lot less bad writing if more people opened a few books before they opened their notebooks.