I remember once a few years ago when a co-worker of mine made a comment about how J.K. Rowling is not that great of a writer. I was shocked by what she said, since I also happened to know she was a huge Harry Potter fan.When I questioned her further, I began to understand that she meant nothing about Rowling's storytelling ability, which she thought was top-notch, but rather that she did not think Rowling as a pure writer was up there with the "greats."
I thought a long time about what she said, and I have to admit I feel a little conflicted about the whole thing. I like to draw, although I don't do it now as much as I used to. Back when I was in art class in high school, I got into a heated discussion with a friend of mine who was a musician. He was explaining to me why a song that was playing on the radio was not "real" music because it was easy to play. To him the only thing that mattered about music was the level of difficulty in executing a particular piece.
I have known writers who feel the same way. These people stress that "real" writing is all about how flowery the language is. It does not matter if what they write is not accessible to the average person. In fact, these people pride themselves in writing things that "commoners" just don't understand.
I don't have anything against flowery language. In fact, some of my most favorite writers are masters at the craft of intricate language. I do, however have a problem with the assertion that the only stories that are good are those that involve flowery language.
Going back to that art class so many years ago, I put up an argument against the case that the only good music is music that is hard to play. I used art as an example, because it is something that I know. Level of difficulty certainly does count for something in the value of a piece of art (or writing) but it does not count for everything. I have seen many pieces of art, listened to many songs and read any books where technically they are amazing, but they lack one thing: heart. These endeavors are cold and unfeeling.
What J.K. Rowling might lack in linguistic abilities I think she more than made up for in other areas. The Harry Potter series was pretty imaginative, and yet it built off what others had done before so there were things about it that were familiar to us as readers, making us kind of feel like we were coming home again as we read the pages in her books. Rowling put a lot of heart into what she wrote. It was so obvious that she cared for her characters, almost as if she were their mother.
I often sit and ask myself if I am a writer or a storyteller, when it comes to my creative works. I hope that I am both, even if I am not a perfect ratio of the two. I strive to use literary devices and to avoid linguistic falters, but I am not perfect. I push myself to tell original and compelling stories. I have come under fire by some for being too "commercial." Personally, I don't see anything wrong with writing stories that the average person can pick up, understand and enjoy. I don't see anything wrong with writing to entertain, either, instead of always writing with some preachy agenda.
Enough of what I think and my ramblings on here. I really want to hear what the rest of you think on this. Like I said, I feel conflicted to a degree about the whole thing. Perhaps your insights can help me, and maybe others, find a more perfect balance.