I’ve run across this meme several times. It never fails to amuse me.
Writing strikes me as somewhat related. We’re trying to “milk our Muse”, for want of a better expression. Sometimes the output flows just fine. At others, our Muse objects to our cold hands on her creative udder, and kicks us right in the unmentionables as we try to get things moving.
Reading Sarah’s article on Wednesday, I was struck by the realization that for us as writers, trying to get something out of Traditional Publishing (Tradpub for short) is also like trying to milk a cow. In this case, the bovine is dangerously close to barren, but many don’t have the gumption to realize that and look for anudder (you should pardon the expression) source of “milk”.
If we look to current events for inspiration, they’re enough to curdle anyone’s milk. Competing ideologies, theologies, proctologies and what have you . . . where can we begin to weave them into a thread that anyone sane would want to read? A related problem is that many readers will choose to restrict themselves to entertainment (including books) that reflects and amplifies the particular “ology” they’ve chosen to follow – and ignore or reject all others, no matter how good they may be. My parents raised me to read widely, even if I didn’t like or agree with a particular perspective, so that I could understand it and engage with it if need be. Nowadays, that would probably be regarded by the politically correct as yet another form of child abuse!
It seems to me this problem comes at us writers from all sides. We’re caught up in it ourselves, as are our readers, actual and potential. If we ignore it and try to write mere “good books”, we alienate ourselves from those who can’t see “outside the box” in ideological terms. If we try to accommodate it and write within one particular “box”, we cut ourselves off from potential readers in other boxes. If we try to be “all things to all boxes”, we satisfy few and alienate many who aren’t interested in a wider perspective.
What’s a poor writer to do? Warm our hands, I suppose, and try the next udder . . . and refuse to be cowed!