Monday, March 23, 2015

Good or Popular?

I'm painting my kitchen and listening to some classic CDs, like REM's Eponymous. Part of one song catches my ear and I stop giving the wall and window trim the first coat of white.

Not everyone can bear the weight of the world.
Think compassion...

That's evocative of so many thoughts. I have family members and friends who suffer from depression, anxiety, panic attacks, and other mental illnesses. To me, this is a powerful phrase because it hits home.

While I'm mulling and painting, another (oldie) song comes up with these words:

You were licking your lips and your lipstick's shining,
and I was dying just to ask for a taste...

It's You Took The Words Right Out of My Mouth  by Meatloaf. I swoon with the imagery these words provoke. This is good writing.

So when the radio comes on and I hear:

We found love in a hopeless place (repeat 100 times) it's kind of blah.... It's not descriptive, it's not emotional, it's just... words. But Beyonce's song is popular.

Some authors. like some songwriters, are beautiful writers and I want to weep from the power of their thoughts. Add moving music and I'm both envious and enraptured. I want to write something that affects someone in their heart, or makes them laugh and forget their woes for a bit.

Other writers are popular, and there's a difference. There are mega bestselling authors, or rock star writers and their writing is... okay. We all know personal preference comes into play, but I can't help wondering if it's like 'follow the herd' mentality. There are Pulitzers that put me into a coma, yet they are labeled 'great' writing and everyone rushes out to buy the book. (I wonder if they read it...) Then, there are little known writers whose book I chance upon (or am asked to critique) that will always stay in my head. Little popularity, but good writing nonetheless.

I'm not begrudging anyone their success, I'm just saying I won't be part of the herd. Like Andy Warhol's soup can art; it's called a masterpiece but I can't see it. I would argue that Thomas Kinkade was a thousand times more talented. Art critics and buyers don't agree. (I have some fabulous preschool art from my kids that should be worth a cool quarter mill....)

Eye of the beholder aside, it's another reason I don't do reviews. I don't follow the crowd when they ooh and ahh over a particular book and I can't give it away fast enough.

There's room for the less well-known authors (and singers and artists) to get their share of the limelight. Let's not drown one person with all our attention when we can lavish it on many.

Back to painting...