April 2, 2012

Marketing to the Collective

I was on a regional train, early morning, heading for a writing workshop when I overheard a conversation across from me.

"Have you seen Midnight in Paris?"
"Yes, I have."
"I just loved that movie."
"I didn't like it so much."
"Have you been to Paris?"
"Well it's captured beautifully in the film. The streets, the cafĂ©'s…it's really worth seeing the film just to get a feel for Paris."
"Well a couple of friends who have seen Midnight in Paris recommended it. I know a lot of people loved that film but I really didn't like it."
"It's about an American couple who travel to Paris and end up exploring different aspects of it, both modern day and from the 1920's. I highly recommend it."

And the conversation goes on a little longer in the same direction. Two women with conflicting opinions, one of whom is completely ignoring the other's and I'm not sure why. Does the idea that someone else dislikes a popular film offend this woman so much she can't register it? Is her hearing bad, the train so loud she misinterprets her companion's sentiments? Is she trying to convert her opinion? Is she trying to defend her own opinion? One thing that is clear, she does not want to hear why the film was disliked. 

It was an interesting prelude to the writing workshop where it turned out both women were also attending. The topic of the day was metaphor and it occurred to me after an hour of that most of the examples discussed were by authors with the same voice. Tripping the lights fantastic, as it were.
I didn't enjoy the workshop. Most people did. I told a fellow writer I met at the workshop that I was disappointed because I found the content very narrow. Anyone who's read The God of Small Things would recognize the same type of flowery metaphors. Anyone who's read Lenny Bruce is Dead knows there's a different way to get a point across.  

She liked the workshop. She didn't understand my opinion.I'm not sure she even heard me because after conveying my sentiment she told me I needed to stop with the thriller fiction and get out there and read more. 

To be a good writer it's important to be articulate. To be a successful writer, someone has to be listening. I'm beginning to suspect listening is done collectively and that, similar to it takes money to make money, it's going to take success to be a success. And that means to reach this brain dead audience I'm going to need to round up a few more stars for my novella.


  1. Hmmm, only beginning to suspect? Of course it is; it's called mediocrity, mainstream; sheople like because they're told to like, and yes, many can't possibly comprehend a different opinion than their own or the majority's and of course for your book to jump on that bandwagon, a few more stars shining in its direction are completely necessary for them to be told that they have to like you next. But better chance, even after thousands of downloads to have your new fish slice from Amazon reviewed.

    For the record, I wanted to dislike Midnight in Paris because I didn't see Owen Wilson fitting the part and I've never liked Woody Allan (but I guess as an actor) but I have to say both did not a bad job at all. I loved the movie too, actually, but then with the kind of time travel aspect to it and being in Europe, I knew I would - especially to what I believe was the golden age of writers (you'll only understand that, if you've seen the movie). And the cinematography was stunning; I loved it - except for the female lead, I found her situation almost paradox to everything else going on - but that was probably only because it was over the top; it could have been done with a lot more subtlety, I thought - but then everyone's a critic, apparently. LOL

    1. The thing that puzzles me is that we're not talking about teenagers wearing skinny jeans (a fad worse than bellbottoms in my opinion) but well read, inquisitive, knowledgable adults with the same desire to be accepted by the masses. Who cares?

  2. Silly people don't listen to each other. Or rather, they'll listen to someone deemed "successful" by the entertainment age. From the stone age to the entertainment age. Everybody is so wrapped up in touting their own ostensible awesomeness, they follow the anointed with a fervor one usually associates with members of the Spanish Inquisition.

    And yes, I agree completely about needing success to be successful. You need the good will of someone to will lift you up there so that the sheople will follow. No where more apparent than in this fashion blogger business. Good grief, so many stupid ninnies out there. Unbelievable.

    Lovely post and thank you.