Andrew K (In Abstentia Out) can't be a "real writer" because
For instance, I look outside. "The roof was wet with rain." That's all right, but anyone could write that. That's not really writing. "The roof was wet with rain like ..." like what? I have no idea. It must have been wet like something else, some lovely little selection of words poetically grouped together, but I have no idea what they are.
Allowing for some degree of facetiousness on Andrew's part, he is otherwise highlighting the assumption that "good writing" consists essentially of deploying figurative language--in this instance specifically a simile: "was wet like. . ."--in strategically chosen flourishes as a way to "describe." As Andrew implies, such figurative language is commonly thought to be evidence that a writer is "really writing," indeed, that he/she has any claim to be a writer at all.
The use of figurative language is one of the few ways in which modern literary fiction is allowed to affirm its origins in poetry (in all other ways "narrative" and its various presumed requirements supersedes "writing" per se), but unfortunately in the hands of most literary novelists it's no more than a decoration, fiction's version of the "quietude" Ron Silliman identifies in mainstream poetry itself. We're to admire the loveliness of the well-formed trope, but it ultimately deflects attention away from our verbal and conceptual experience of the text and toward the writer's insight into the similitude of isolated objects and images in the world at large.
And it certainly isn't the only way to produce suitably "literary" works of fiction. Some great writers don't use it at all. Stephen Dixon, for example, presents us instead with long strings of declaratory sentences stating the plain facts of things, such as these opening lines of Interstate:
He's in the car with the two kids, driving on the Interstate when a car pulls up on his side and stays even with his for a while and he looks at it and the guy next to the driver of what's a minivan signals him to roll down his window. He raises his forehead in an expression "What's up?" but the guy, through an open window, makes motions again to roll down his window and then sticks his hand out his window and points down at the back of Nat's car, and he says "My wheel, something wrong with it?" and the guy shakes his head and cups his hands over his mouth as if he wants to say something to him. He lowers his window, slows down a little while he does it, van staying alongside him, kids are playing some kid card game in back though strapped in, and when the window's rolled almost all the way down and the hand he used is back on the steering wheel, the guy in the car sticks a gun out the window and points it at his head. . . .
In Mulligan Stew, Gilbert Sorrentino asks us to take as good, if parodic, writing, long passages of otherwise quite bad writing such as this, its first paragraph:
How absurd it is to find myself in this dilemma! It was I who made Ned Beaumont what he was, anyone can tell you that. Perhaps not "anyone." Why should I kill him? If I did. Why should I even want to kill him? All I ever wanted to do was keep him out of trouble. He was getting himself deep into it too, that's for certain. The way he was going, the things he was doing these past few months, portended nothing but disaster for him and Daisy, Daisy with the dark, shining hair. Of course, I wanted to help. They were both dear to me--dearer, perhaps, than I can bring myself to say. Well, let that go?
One could say that Mulligan Stew is an extended example (450 pages) of how very bad "experimental" writing can be converted into great experimental writing with some chutzpah and a vast sense of humor. No sham poetry needed.
Some unconventional writers, such as Stanley Elkin, invoke figurative language only to blow it up, calling attention to its more outlandish possibilities, as in the first paragraph of George Mills:
Because he knew nothing about horses. Not even--though he made wagers--how to what would not then have been called handicap them. Betting the knight, his money on the armor, the intricate chain mail like wire net or metal scrim, being's effulgent Maginot line, his stake on the weighted mace and plate mittens, on the hinged couters and poleyns, on vambrace and cuisee and greave, banging the breast-plate and all the jewelry of battle for timbre and pitch like a jerk slamming doors and kicking tires in a used car lot. Not even betting the knight finally so much as his glazed essence, his taut aura. (And in winter something stirring and extra in the smoke pouring through the fellow's ventails, as if breath were a sign of rage or what would not then have been called steam a signal of spirit). . . .
One can always count on Elkin to take figurative language to comedic excess ("being's effulgent Maginot Line"), demonstrating both his own mastery of the technique and his inability to employ it with a straight face. A passage such as this one is much more interested in setting up Elkin's signature lyric rhythms and, in this case, doling out strange and, in context, goofy words--"vambrace and cuisee and greave"--than in establishing Elkin's ability to dispense "some lovely little selection of words."
Writers such as these--and many more stylistically "adventurous" writers could be cited as well--do not settle for the sanctioned practice of "really writing" by inserting conventionally poetic turns of language now and again. They attempt to transform literary language by disregarding its conventions.