I once sat in a viticulture class with an instructor telling the class about how viticulture is not an exact science. I feel that writing is like that; it is an art form. However, I keep reading about the the literary industry trying to confine writers to something other than an art form. 80,000 words seems to be the goal. And the words "cut, cut, cut," seem to be the common battle cry toward supposed greatness.
What is happening to the art of writing by some who hold the keys to traditional publication? Classics didn't become classics by always trending toward what made money, nor by the artist being limited to a profession that was also not inherently an exact science. Exact sciences after all produce exact results...in other words the results trend toward always being the same. Personally, I don't like books being limited in length, any more than all the music I listen to being reduced to 3.5 minutes.
Thankfully, there are avenues for artists to share their work freely or for profit today without being beholden to certain gatekeepers in the industry turning potential classics into pulp for a quick buck. As a new novelist, it is good to know that in traditional publishing there are still some who believe in the idea that there are no absolutes. It was refreshing at a conference this summer to actually hear someone say this in a literary world trending toward sameness.
But perhaps what I am writing about is the difference between "pop" fiction versus classic literary works-to-be. However, I do think what is popular shouldn't be about word count as much as maintaining the integrity of the artist/writer's original ideas.
I do hope writers continue to want to push their abilities further by investing their time in querying and signing on with those involved in traditional publishing. There is a vetting process there that can make us all better at what we do. In the end, I hope longer works are once again viewed with the same vigor as they once were. It's better for all.