Monday, March 21, 2016

Stop Writing for Yourself?

From the following article, check it out:

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/comic-riffs/wp/2016/03/21/donald-trump-will-win-in-a-landslide-the-mind-behind-dilbert-explains-why/
“This was a trick I learned from Bil Keane,” the late creator of “Family Circus,” Adams tells Comic Riffs. “He basically taught me to stop writing for myself, which I realized I had been doing — writing a comic that I wanted to read.”
This is a fascinating article from Scott Adams on the Trump phenomenon, and I would like to keep politics out of this discussion and instead focus on the above quote and Adams' pivot from writing "something for himself" to "writing for an audience" and then him finding success.

It is an amazing quote, and also a deeply disheartening one as well.

It is also one that seems plainly obvious.

To find success, must we abandon what we love? I would feel this is the truth, as 'commercial writing' for established genres and groups of readers walks a well-trodden and used path - it is easy to find readers in green pastures. But there is a deeper question here, even if we choose to write for an established genre, must we give up the things we like to write for the formulas and standard conventions of a genre?

It is deeper than holding your finger to the wind and saying, "Oh, this seems popular, now I will write YA books!" It is saying, "My thoughts are less important than the standard conventions of the genre."

In essence, Adams may be making that argument. He writes Dilbert to address the woes and hard life of office drudgery, and those struggles have deep meaning to his comic's readers. He brings a new perspective to the struggle, it is certain, and also a unique brand of irony and humor. Also, in a three-panel comic there isn't much room for expression, so he has to boil a joke down to the essence, but the feeling seems to be still there.

He starts with a premise and best tries to express the irony of that state.

He is not trying to come up with characters with diverse backstories and histories, all of his characters are stereotypes to deliver the painfully obvious punchline. If I wrote a similar comic for myself, I would fill it full of interesting stories, plots, and other elements that would give me great joy to follow along with - with me being an insider and knowing the meanings and punch-lines ahead of time, of course. Re-reading my masterpiece would give me great joy, because I could marvel at my ingenious nature and creativity.

But that doesn't appeal to a wider audience. Most people just don't get it.

If you write about the familiar, you are instantly more accessible.

If you write for yourself, you are shrinking your audience to yourself.

There is still wiggle room here to be individualistic, I suppose. Adams' humor is a unique brand, and he can setup and deliver a joke in the space the size of a credit card. That takes a lot of skill, and yet it still feels like his humor is unique, identifiable, and individualistic. I suppose when you do write for an audience, what you bring to the table is a unique way of looking at the material and expressing yourself within these limits. The required pieces must still be present, the genre conventions, the feeling, and the tone - but your way of expressing them is what makes you special.

It is an interesting statement and strategy for producing creative works, not to "write for yourself" yet still produce something that is individualistic and unique, with a  perspective and voice that appeals to the established fans of the genre, as in this case, office humor.

It is also an interesting statement in the practice of "writing for yourself" and setting expectations for that practice. We all think we are geniuses, yet many times, the world doesn't seem to think so at all. Our brilliance only shines when we illuminate something with it; and in this case, Adams' brilliance shined when he turned his spotlight of humor on the world of cubicle politics and office life.

Friday, March 18, 2016

Those Things

Those things you do.

Life, wandering through it, thinking about plans, having none, and moving on.

Those things.

Wondering. Working hard. Not working hard. The pointless existence of meandering, all while listening to everyone and no one at the same time. Wondering why. Living in that state.

Setbacks. Things to do. Concern, worry, and anxious moments for no real reason at all.

Those things.

It is all right, yet it is not. It is just the procedure and march of things we don't want to do that we fear. It is less a fear than a something we want to reject and walk away from. How life has gotten too complex, and how things never turned out quite the way we wanted.

Yet in those moments we find ourselves, lost yet found, restless yet comfortable, and where we want to be in a place we never chose to. Watching the slow spin of a world out of control, yet not caring about any of it.

And tomorrow, more of those things to do.

Those things which we do, the bare minimum needed to progress through life, one day after the other.

Anticipated, yet expected. Hated but we shall happily do them again and again.

Until an unexpected moment interrupts us.

And those things we reviled, we miss. That drudgery, those chores, that way of life.

We miss them because they were the unwelcome normal we had become accustomed to.

And for all of our dislike of that routine, it is the very thing we miss.

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Hope

Let it renew inside you.

Let it flow forth like crystal-clear water in a spring.

Let it gently guide you down the river of life.

It is something which you must bring into your heart, hope, and with it sustain and nurture your very being. It shall be like blood to you, this hope, and it shall carry every breath you make to every fiber of your being. Hope shall be that which gives you the energy to live.

To love what you do.

To be the best you are.

It is difficult at times, finding this power. It seems to elude us like the passing of a stray breeze, we feel it at random moments, yet we are unable to capture it and harness its power. We seek to feel it again, ever waiting in one place for this gentle force to push on us again.

But I have found a way we can turn hope on at will, to instantly find the power of the wind, to feel it against our skin, and to bring this wondrous energy back into our lives.

On a still day, the only way to feel the wind is to put one foot in front of another and walk.

In the still moments of your life, the only way to feel hope is to move forward and live.

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Feeding the Beast

I can't believe how incredibly popular I am!

Because I hate the same thing you do.

Let me repost whoever or whatever it is, him or her, and join the crowd. Look at all my newfound popularity! Look at how I am being lauded as insightful and great because I reaffirm someone else's anger and bias.

It feels good to feed into all this hatred, doesn't it? Insanely so.

Of course I want to be witty! Of course I want people to praise me for piling on! I want to provide a new and insightful angle for people to channel their negativity with, because it unlocks another negative attack upon the thing which they were told to dislike by someone else! I give them new attacks which to repeat to others upon the thing which we all dislike.

Can't you see how smart I am? How great of a thinker I am?

Oh, what is it that I hate, you ask?

You tell me.