Creating a Stir

Steve Meitz is a loyal reader of my blog.  He is also one of the few readers that I see face to face on a regular basis.  We catch the same commuter bus every morning.  He is a very funny guy who has had countless interesting experiences, and he has provided me with a number of ideas for blog posts.  But right now (as I’m writing this) I am cursing him because it is after midnight and I am up clicking away on my laptop because of him.

He casually tossed out an idea and it has stuck with me like a raspberry seed wedged between my teeth.  I can try without success to dislodge it with my tongue, but I am not going to be rid of it until I deal with it properly with about 18 inches of dental floss.  Similarly, once the seed of an idea burrows down into the middle of your brain there’s no coaxing it from the between the soft folds of grey matter until you deal with it properly by committing it to the keyboard. And this idea of his is likely to even catch me some flack, yet still, here I am clattering away on the laptop in the wee hours.

What’s keeping me up is the question: what is it that makes something a sensation?  Why has Fifty Shades of Gray raced up the charts and sold a gazillion copies?  How did Love Story, Jonathan Livingston Seagull and Bridges of Madison County become iconic best sellers and earn movie rights?  I know this is where I get beat up and accused of sour grapes, but let me defend myself by saying I am not jealous of those successes (okay maybe I am. I would kill for even a tenth of one percent of the traction that any of those titles received). My intent is not to denigrate or discount the work or ideas of the individuals responsible for such work, I just think that there is a mountain of better work out there that languishes virtually undiscovered.

Why does the Pet Rock create such a stir in the 1970s when it can’t even hold a candle to the creativity potential of Legos or K’Nex?  Why is Justin Bieber still selling records?  Do you think “As Long as You Love Me” will have the kind of staying power of “Hey Jude” or “Let It Be?” Will Justin Bieber be preforming at the opening ceremonies of the 2062 Olympics?

The Expendables 2 has been a hot action movie released this summer that stars a who’s who of action movie stars including Sylvester Stallone, Jason Statham, Chuck Norris, Jean-Claude Van Damme, Bruce Willis, and Arnold Schwarzenegger.  It has undoubtedly pulled in a good deal of box office receipts. Do you think it will ever make it onto the AFI’s list of top 100 movies?  I haven’t seen The Expendables 2 (heck, I never even knew there was an Expendables 1) but somehow I don’t think it is going to be compared with the likes of The Godfather, Shindler’s List, or One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest.

I have created works of art, dabbled in the composition of music, written a couple of books and sustained a blog, posting two to three posts a week, over the past ten months.  That doesn’t make me an expert and I haven’t been wildly successful on any of those fronts but it does lend me a little credibility. I do have some experience with the arts.

I’ve been in art galleries and heard people say things like, “My four-year-old could have done better than that.” Well the fact remains that said four-year-old didn’t do better than that. Most of us don’t, or can’t or aren’t interested in doing better. And that question that pulled me out of bed in the middle of the night is still hanging there: What causes a sensation?  Why is it that some receive all the accolades, fame and success while superior works go unrecognized, unnoticed or undiscovered? Sadly I can’t answer that, at least not adequately.

If I had the answer, I wouldn’t be asking the question, and my name would be at the top of the best seller list.  I suspect it likely has something to do with talent, connections, tenacity, persistence, and being in the right place at the right time—oh, and a fair amount of luck is probably involved too. Let me know if you are able to pull all of those elements together and I’ll look for your name on the best seller list, but right now, I’m going to bed.


5 comments on “Creating a Stir

  1. Methinks, Mr. Black, that you do not give yourself as much credit as you deserve. I am continually fascinated as to how a throwaway sentence, a meandering idea or a mumbled diatribe from my barely awake brain can turn into a lucid, thoughtfully written piece that would take me half the day to produce half as well. It’s easy to come up with ideas. You sir, do the heavy lifting and as a faithful reader of your talent, I appreciate it.
    While I surely did not expect you to come up with an answer to the question posed, I agree that the stars of timing and luck must align with the talent star, but as one clever ad agency says, “You can’t win if you don’t play.”
    Here is an article that may give some insight as to how art is perceived:
    but there is no way in hell I can explain Fifty Shades, pet rocks or Justin Beiber to you.
    Your constant reader,
    Steve Meitz

    • Steve– Thanks for your kind words, unwavering support, a consistent flow of ideas, and friendship. I will definitely take a look at the link you provided, it sounds intriguing. I keep playing but the winning part continues to elude me. And the closest I’ve gotten to hitting the jackpot is writing about it. And quite frankly I’m good with just the enjoyment derived from writing but I’m not gonna lie, even a glimmer of success would be a kick…

  2. It’s a crazy world out there! Yes, I’ve wondered the same thing–but unlike you, it didn’t lodge in my brain and keep me up at wierd hours. Still you deserve credit for your tenacity. Thanks for the thought-provoking post.

    • I’m glad I’m not alone. Publishing is indeed a fickle field and just as soon I think I understand it—boom—it’s off to the races in a completely different direction. As always thanks for stopping by!

  3. It does seem sometimes that common insipidness appeals to the masses doesn’t it.

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