Monday, June 19, 2006

Brave new world of a million niches beats the blockbusters.

I came across this article today,,5-2231917,00.html

and it confirmed something I have predicted since the start of the internet. Although the article (it’s an extract from a forthcoming book) only expands on the theme novel writing and publishing about two thirds of the way down, it is worth reading all of it to get the background.

What is very apparent is the continuing collapse of anything ‘mainstream’. I received an interesting Email this morning from a complete stranger commenting that my article ‘The Path’ was my finest piece of writing to date and to quote their words,
‘You may wish to consider, perhaps, the outrageous suggestion that your 'voice' could well turn out to be a tad quieter and more reflective than the joint-and-carling wielding-dj-to-the-cockle-warring-lager louts ;)’.
However, the lunatic story, ‘The Great Welsh Cockles War’, along with ‘The Path’ were both spotlighted on WriteLink, (an on-line writing community) the latter I thought was most definitely one of my weakest works! How odd. You can’t please everyone all the time. (It would be nice if that person contacted me again to chat about this a bit more.)

Should you adjust your writing to suit the audience or should the audience be simply allowed to pick and choose between various styles you write? What is for the writer more satisfying, a thousand people loving one fixed style, or 200 ‘fans’ spread between five completely contrasting approaches to literature. If you prefer the former, are you now not being dictated too? Are you writing to please yourself or to please others? Do you buy a painting for £100 because you like it or spend £20,000 because others like it?

One of the finest examples of this I take from the world of music: David Bowie, whose influence over nearly four decades of musicians is now legendary. One of his nick names is ‘The Chameleon’; an attribute to this mans incredible talent to change his styles. Sometimes, as far as I am concerned, with disastrous results. His work with ‘Tin Machine’ was for my ears, an abominable noise. ‘Let’s Dance’, his only solo number one in the UK, was along with the album, rather ‘mainstream pop’ when it came out in the ‘80s. He made plenty of new fans but unquestionably disappointed his ‘Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars’ original supporters base.
Undeterred he stuck to his own unique style of NOT having a fixed style. Someone else who equals that stature in my opinion is Madonna. You may not like her personally, but you cannot ignore her great ability to constantly recreate her-self.

I doubt that either Bowie or Madonna is particularly concerned if any of their works bombs. They do what they do because they wanted to and they will continue to experiment in all directions for a very long time to come. I consider that a sign of true creative genius.

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