Quality of Writing

I’m in the middle of reading “Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance“, and the author brings up a good question:

How do you define quality?

You know what it is, but you don’t know what it is.  Pirsig (the author) is specifically speaking of writing in the section I am referring to, but I think it can be attributed to many things.

Many of the people I supervise ask questions about how to do certain parts of their jobs better, or to improve the quality of their work.  I can give them examples of what has worked in the past, but it is very hard for me to say “This is specifically what you need to do”.

I have a hard time with this question when talking about the quality of things.  I mean, a $400 blender that won’t break on you is definitively of better quality than a $25 blender that can’t blend as well and breaks more often.  However, when discussing writing for instance, I’ve always had issues.  What makes a good poem good?  It really is (partly) in the eye of the beholder, yes?  And how would you explain to someone specifically how to have quality writing?

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