Free or Paid; Hours or Days; Doesn’t Change Whether Quality is Quality.

An ongoing discourse and dialogue recently popped into my attention once more. The full details of how are not significant, but it basically boils down to the idea of how quality and worth of creative work are measured, to an extent. An amateur writer posted a story that they admitted was not good. Comments followed that agreed with their assessment of their story being badly written. Some were rude, some gave critique, some gave advice for improvement, but only one said anything positive, and even that was mostly about how others should not give negative criticism to the author and not actually mentioning anything positive concerning the story.

The author returned to the comments basically cursing out the negative ones and being passive aggressive to the ones that were still negative but slightly less rude. Again the author admitted the short comings of their work, but now offered excuses of being inexperienced and young, not having an editor or beta, and simply not being as talented as other more experienced writers. And frankly, that is the part that really irritated me. Look, criticism can be hard to take even more so when it is delivered in a less than ideal way, but then the question becomes what was the purpose and intent of posting a story that you yourself admitted is not good to a public site with open comments?

Obviously, the person just wanted praise and validation, and I get it. Praise and validation, even from strangers, can be pretty appealing and addicting to some extent, but if you choose to do seek that out, then you kind of have to be prepared for the inverse, especially if you are showing your early work before the tempering of experience, craftwork, etc. Creative output of any kind takes time. Yes, you might be a rare prodigy that shows incredible, innate skill, but those individuals are immensely rare, and even they still hone their craft before showing their work to the public. If you simply want unadulterated positivity, regardless of the actual quality of your efforts, then show your work to family or friends, but don’t try to find that on the internet unless you have a thick skin and are actually confident in your skills.

Beyond this, there seems to be this notion that the fact that the story was freely produced and given somehow made it above criticism or at least should be accounted for. And I am not sure why anyone believes that. So, you didn’t get paid to write that story, play that song, draw that picture, or do any other creative pursuit? Okay, but that also implies that no one asked you to do it either. Furthermore, paid work does not inherently bestow a marker of quality by any measure, just as unpaid work inherently implies it to be of a lesser quality. Hell, there are several professional, expensive productions across all mediums that are utter crap. Accordingly, there are thousands upon thousands of creative works that are freely available to engage with across the expanse of the internet that blow the paid professional stuff out of the damn water.

It all boils down to the simple fact that quality is quality. Yes, there are obvious different tastes and preferences, but even among those, there is still clear examples that rise above the others in terms of quality, however you measure it. This is not a bad thing. And not amount of “hard work” or time or money or any other factor will make bad work good. Frankly, trying to deny this is disingenuous and a disservice to the artists making the work and working, hopefully, on their craft.

Would love to hear some thoughts on this one. Perhaps you agree. Hell, maybe you think this is a shit take. Or you lie somewhere in the middle. Either way, feel free to comment below.

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