Everyone has different tastes in writing. I've read commercially and critically successful novels that I thought really sucked.
This brings me to an interesting moment from earlier this month at my residency in the Fairfield University MFA program. The topic meandered to current Pulitzer Prize-winning novel "Tinkers." Despite the awards and fanfare, our program director is not a fan of this novel.
Which is fine. I've read "Tinkers." While I enjoyed it, I'll admit it's not an easy book to get into. It takes a full commitment. And it's certainly not the type of novel I would write.
Here's the irony. "Tinkers" is written by Paul Harding, who at the time of its publication taught a couple of fiction classes I took at Harvard Extension School before I enrolled in Fairfield's MFA. When I told him I was applying to MFA programs, he generously agreed to write a recommendation for me.
So, while I don't write like Paul Harding, and our program director may not like his novel, there's a good chance I wouldn't be enrolled at Fairfield's MFA program without Paul's recommendation. Maybe that's bad for Fairfield's reputation as a program, but it just goes to show that fiction writing is all subjective.