Yarnspinner Masterpieces

A couple weeks ago The New Yorker had an eight-page special advertising section in it, taken out by Bantam Dell. The section begins with this copy:

Great writers are great storytellers: they are rarely at a loss for words. The ability to unravel a yarn, deliver an adventure, and bring a voice alive is what sets the storyteller apart, and what keeps us, the readers, satisfied.

And I’m like, what? Bantam Dell copywriter guy, are you nuts? Or just reporting from the talentless hack zone of the planet Genre Fiction? I mean, I’ve read more of the Paris Review “Writers at Work” interviews than is probably healthy, and although the interview with, say, Dorothy Parker is rather different than the one with William Burroughs, if there’s one thing all writers seem to agree on it’s that the work is really, really difficult.

I had a similar reaction to this, from an article in the current Poets & Writers:

As we put pen to paper, we all feel that we’re writing masterpieces—we’re sure of it. Maybe we all have to be, in order to keep writing. After all, by the time we learn how wrong we are, the work is safely finished and either published or rejected.


I think I’m sticking with the drops-of-blood-on-the-forehead, never-finished-only-abandoned school of thought for now.