Everyone has stories, insights, inspiration. How many people do they affect? Only the people that share their stories, insights and inspiration actually affect people. How does a person affect the largest number of people? Write a book/blog/movie/play/poem. Make a painting/sculpture/photo. Write a song/symphony/sonata/choral piece. Choreograph/perform a dance. Just like a million other people out there. I’m not going to tell you how to get started on any of these things. I want to KNOW something: How do you get people to experience your story, your insight, or your inspiration?
Whenever I post these musings, it pops up on my Face Book account. I have 10 whole followers. 10. Julie and Julia blog had 1000’s. According to the SEO stuff, my blogs are wayyy too long. They don’t have catchy phrases. I don’t entitle them correctly. The paragraphs are too long. I tend to use an exorbitant number of multi-syllabic $10 words. I don’t write what people want to read.
So to write something people want to read, I need something sensational. “Alligator cut open to find 3 year old prodigy who curses in Latin and plays Mozart on the alligator’s teeth. Film at 11…” Gossip? Not sure how to do that. Politics! “Trump is the greatest Alien we’ve ever had for a president. He’s Vegan–from Vega and he’s orange because the make-up artists have to cover his pale blue skin with something…” Sex and Violence? “Ravel Bolero rehearsal is postponed because the Saxophones and the Violins could not get along.” Oh, wait, that’s Sax and Violins. My bad.
One hit wonders abound. They write something and it goes viral, then they try to repeat the performance and it fizzles. Why? 1. The 1st thing they wrote was for an audience they’d not anticipated reaching. 2. Because it was a new audience, the band wasn’t sure what was appealing in its 1st hit, so they try to recreate the song. Same bass line, same melody (new words with the correct sound bytes), same orchestration. 3. Audience loves the innovation and freshness of the 1st piece, but realizes that that’s all this band can do in listening to the 2nd, so it isn’t new or innovative or fresh. Moral of the story, write what you write, don’t write to your audience. Play what you play, dance what you dance, paint what you paint. Do not cater to the audience.
There was a study done (and no I can’t find it) that when you change a method for teaching a certain topic, teachers will jump on it enthusiastically and the students will excel. It may be a bad method, but since it’s new… Once the teachers recognize its shortcomings, they may back off of this method. Teachers have changed their perspective since government got involved in education. They now teach to the test, as much as they hate doing that. That is the same principle. They’re not teaching what they teach, they cater to the audience, and the audience is the government and the school board, not their students. In trying to keep up to the education standards we set for the world, we’re chasing our tails. We’re not doing what we do best because we’re performing for an audience and we’re not sure what this audience responds to. The best way to get the best scores on the tests that they use to measure our effectiveness is to teach the students how to take tests. Does that make them more intelligent and innovative? Um…
There is a commercial on the Public Radio stations having to do with the sponsorship of the arts. “Blah Blah Blah that believes that a Great Country Deserves Great Art.” Great art doesn’t come as a reaction; it is an expression that provokes a reaction. Instead of that statement, they should say, “Brought to you by the Blah blah foundation that believes that a Great Country PRODUCES Great Art.” The 1st statement implies that the art is brought in from somewhere else. It is screened and determined to be of a certain quality and then displayed. The 2nd statement implies that based on our collective perceptions, the artists start producing new and exciting products–music, books, poetry, art, dance–that spark the imagination of the people and provoke more innovative thinking.
Think about driving down a new housing development unit. The houses have the same 3 floor plans, and are within a few degrees of the same color, ie. beige, taupe, muted blue or green. You walk in and they all have the white/off-white/cream walls and carpet. I defy you to find a RED house. The constructions are built to catch the most people by being more average than anything else. Don’t stick out. Don’t be different. Does that seem to explain the over regulation we see everywhere? Why does all beer taste exactly the same? Why are all the sit-coms we see using the same plot lines? Check out the “franchises” in the movie theaters. Hero is normal guy, kind of a jerk sometimes, but his better self gets control and just when you think he’s going down for the count, he rises and succeeds. Why is this? It appeals to the most people. Why do all the new SUV’s look alike? You may be too young to remember but you used to be able to tell the difference between cars from several blocks away. The message is this: Don’t stick out. Don’t offend. Don’t be different. Then watch as our country sinks into mediocrity.
Create what you create and don’t worry about the size of your audience.