The image above from NYPL’s Rare Books Division is a fragment of Walt Whitman’s revision of his poem “The Mississippi at Midnight,” which was first published on this day in 1848 in the New Orleans Daily Crescent.
Link to this poem, which will give you the chills on your lunchtime break today, here.
The difference between good writing and bad writing is ‘did the author do what he set up to do?’ You can’t say ‘this is a novel about my first love and by the end you’re going to be heartbroken’ then none of that comes out of the book. And I’m not talking about a book that was structured that way on purpose, but a writer not doing his work! If a book gets published, an editor looked at it and plucked out specific paragraphs that didn’t fit in the novel…There are cracks in something other people deem perfect… If there’s a level of perfection to strive for, there’s also laziness and garbage material. You know the level of perfection you want to reach, and if that’s true then there must also be bad art.
Pieces of Dan’s rant on criticism from the Two-Book Minimum podcast with Jeremy P. Bushnell.