Do you play the piano? Are you any good? No? Then maybe you should quit. If you don't play well, you'll lower the art form in the world's eyes.
Does that sound a little harsh? That's what I thought when I saw a similar discussion on one of the writers' boards I occasionally look in on: "bad writing" is something one should be ashamed of. There was a lot of lofty talk about how terrible it is that so many published writers chase the almighty dollar by "cranking out" books with little apparent regard for quality. The assumption, of course, was that those writers could do better, but won't. And the consensus was that they ought to be ashamed of neglecting art for the sake of money.
I can't side with the finger-waggers on this. A novel can be glorious art or it can be simple entertainment. I like that. I don't see anything shameful in writing "solely" to entertain readers. Must every meal be a gourmet meal? I don't know about you, but every now and then I crave a cheeseburger. If some people are "cranking out" books just to make money, so what? Should we despise Wendy's for mass-producing cheeseburgers?
Also, shouldn't we admit that most published writers just aren't capable of producing great books?
I lack the necessary education, intelligence, and talent to become a great writer, but that's never been a dream of mine, anyway. I can please a few people and more important, I can please myself with my writing. So I make no apologies for writing "cheeseburger" books. I figure those who can do better should go right ahead. Their success won't threaten me, and besides, I'm always on the lookout for more good books to read.
If you want to read almost a whole chapter of my writing and judge it for yourself, just click on the bookcover in this blog's sidebar. (Yeah, that pregnant lady over there.) That's the best writing I'm capable of producing, so I'm proud of it. I think some of you might like it, but it won't make me cry if you don't.
And by the way, I don't play the piano, so I admire even those who do it poorly.