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The Eyes of the World (Book Review)
May 18, 2013Posted by on
Over here, a blogger is reading and reviewing Publisher’s Weekly’s best selling books for each of the past 100 years. What a great idea I thought. I read the first book. Or tried to anyway. I wrote about that effort. What ended it was the lack of a story that I cared about. The lack of characters that I cared about. Really, there was just nothing there for me to continue on.
I moved on to book #2 on the list. The Eyes of the World by Harold Bell Wright. Here’s Mr. Kahn’s review of the book. Turns out he and I had a different view of the book. I certainly agree with him about some things, but at the end of the day for me the key fact is this. Was there a story there that made me want to keep reading.
This is a morality tale, overwrought and overdone. There’s a love story. There’s evil. There’s good. There are confused artists. That’s what got me interested initially was the artist angle. At it’s core, the story addresses the challenge artists and writers face — do they cater to the masses and those who are willing to pay for their art? Or do they create and write what is true to their vision?
This is a part of an on-going conversation over at toasted-cheese.com. Do we write for the masses and for profit (i.e., Dan Brown who is subject to much scorn in most corners except where it counts for a lot of people — in his pocketbook)? Or do write the story we want to tell and the masses and profit be damned?
The Eyes of the World explores this issue. At some point also the characters became wrapped up in a tale that I wanted to see to the end. And, isn’t that what matters.
It’s interesting reading Mr. Kahn’s review. While the story would seem to be the author’s attempt to support the idea that artists should be true to their art, Mr. Kahn suggests that the author of this story was nothing more than a whore to the popular whim of the day.
On to book #3. 1915’s The Turmoil by Booth Tarkington
Hmmm…that is forever the question isn’t it…maybe we should write for ourselves in a way that others may share with us…finding the middle way seems to be very difficult. I think of Walt Whitman a lot these days…he was reviled by many…but he was one of the greatest American Poets…only to be recognized once he’d gone. Will Dan Brown be remembered?
Only because 100 years from now somebody else will be talking about him in the context of the best selling books of the last century. 🙂
Maybe, maybe not…one hundred or so years ago, there were a lot of 5 cent novels that sold like hotcakes…he might just wind up in a statistic in some English history text, but not necessarily as anything more than a comment on the tastes of an age… 😉
That’s kind of the question for everything in the writing world, masses or ourselves. At least that’s how it feels with my blog question too… Better to write what I want or try to grow an audience at the risk of cheapening some of the connections in a smaller blog community? I’m leaning toward keeping things the way they are…
Maybe once you become a best-seller like Dan Brown, it becomes easier to write for the masses because you know they’ll be there. As an unpublished author it feels like a fool’s gamble. Why waste your writing time trying to predict what other people will like while not enjoying the process as much? At least that’s how I feel. Better to write what you love than what you think might sell. The latter feels like a job I used to hate.
Completely agree. And I think you found your answer on your blog question. 🙂 Seriously, you and I have done this dance before. And, at least with respect to blogging, we like where we’re at — writing what we want when we want, with a manageable following that feeds our souls. It goes back to the first rule of blogging that I chose to ignore. That is, find a niche and write that niche. A cooking blog. A gardening blog. A photo blog. A ______ blog. But never combine them into one blog. Why not? It’s my blog and I make the rules. I’ll write about whatever I want. If people follow, fine. If not, that tells me something about the value of what I want to write.
Same for writing — I agree. If I was trying to tailor my fiction to what I thought the masses would want, I would probably go crazy. And, yes, it would become a job.
Yes, you’re right, my answer was right in front of me all along, and one we’ve discussed before. It’s just that pull we always talk about in wanting to be paid (in whatever capacity) to write. And, your comment about the golden blogging rule of picking one thing made me laugh. I most definitely cannot pick one thing to blog about! 😀
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I took a look at the Wanderlust Festival’s website. Given the direction of so much of your writing these days, if they look at your blog, I don’t see how they can’t conclude you fit. Yikes, a double negative. But, so much of your blogging these days is centered on the themes of the festival. Huge followers or not, you belong there and you should write about it.