Friday, May 24, 2013

My readers don't owe me

Let me be clear: I'm not a fanboy. Of anything. Maybe I was when I was young, a kid, a teen, maybe in my twenties, but not now. There are particular movies, games, comics, books, musicians, etc., that I enjoy, some more than others. But there are none I cannot live without, and there are none that are perfect, though there's nothing wrong with that because it's often the imperfections that make me love a piece of art (some blues guitar comes to mind).

But ... I don't need all that stuff.

Lose everything ... lose all those DVDs and CDs and books and whatever else you've got saved up and collected ... lose your wifi and passwords and wireless ... and you'll learn real fast that yes, you can live without those things, too.

We don't need them.

Oh, sometimes we think we do. And some of us absolutely believe we do. That stuff is art, after all. It speaks to us, speaks to our souls.

Maybe. But it's also still a collection of stuff, whether in physical or digital formats. It's still most likely to be trashed or passed off to someone who doesn't care nearly as much once we are gone.

Let me ask a question: Does being able to listen to a new favorite song at any time you want make you happy? Try living without your iPod or iPad or even a freakin' Walkman for a month. Oh, there'll be moments when you'll think about a song, but I guarantee you will get by. You might listen to the car radio more often. Yeah, the old AM and FM. But I think you'll get by. I think you'll still be relatively happy, even if every single one of your immediate wants aren't being met. You learn to live. That's just how it is.

Music and books and art in all forms, all of that stuff can be important, but if it truly speaks to your soul, if you believe it truly is a part of yourself or makes you part of who you are, wouldn't it carry with you? Wouldn't it stay in your mind, pop in from time to time at the least?

Even if it's only of entertainment value, wouldn't you recall all the really good scenes? The really cool characters? The best lines?

Readers and viewers and fans and the like, they spend a lot of money on their art and their entertainment. They don't have to. It's not like a good book is going to fill their belly or put their kids through school or pay the rent or get rid of their wife's breast cancer. A good book might make you feel better about all those things, and about the rest of life, but generally speaking, it's not going to make those things go away. It'll maybe just make life a little more tolerable for a few minutes or hours every day.

But if it weren't there, there's still survival.

And there's always something else. The next book, or movie, or album, or what have you.

Most people who spend money on art have to work for a living, and even those who don't work, many of them do not do so by their own volition. Consumers of art and entertainment have choices to make when spending their money on that art and entertainment, and I appreciate when they spend their money, and their time, on my own writings.

I don't claim to be a great writer, even a good writer. I think I'm a decent writer, and I think I show signs of improving from time to time. As a writer, I tend to try a lot of experimentation, not all of which pays off (financially or artistically), but I'm enjoying it.

I tend to approach my writing as some people do spirituality. I don't know all the answers, but I enjoy asking the questions. I enjoy delving into the human psyche, into our spiritual and mental selves, even the possibility that those parts of us might not exist from some viewpoints.

Generally I write for myself, figuring I can't be that different from some sections of humanity, that at least some others must think and feel in similar patterns as myself. I figure those people are or will be or can be my readers.

Though I am my first reader, I always write hoping it will touch someone else. Rarely do I write merely to entertain, though I try not to get so deep that my work becomes boring. I want people to question and to wonder, and to wander.

Yet I realize readers don't have to come to me for those things.

My readers don't owe me anything.

I just hope I can pay them back a little bit.

1 comment:

Charles Gramlich said...

Interesting thoughts. I'm the same way about most of the "things" I have, though I really really do like having lots of books around me. I'm probably closest to being a fanboy of the original Trek series, but it's not something I can't live without or that I don't go long periods without thinking about. I also think the writer owes the reader more than the reader owes us. None of us are required reading quite yet.