I'm faced with a writing culture dilemma. An empowerment movement gaining momentum is afoot across the culture and takes numerous approaches. The bases are inclusion and exclusion. No need to name the factions; they know their designs. This is social politics and, narrowly, about writing.
Hatrack's rules ostensibly restrict political discussions, though writing culture politics, to me, is an appropriate topic, nonetheless, a perilous and potentially a contentious one. So please keep discussions on topic and respectful.
The empowerment movement's general impetus is enhancing inclusion in an often exclusion-oriented culture. Three areas strike me as the predominant considerations; one, expanded inclusion and opposition thereof; two, empowerment movements generally exhort privileges, entitlements, and rights, less so if at all acknowledge responsibilities, obligations, duties, and accountabilities; and three, contextures of inclusion and exclusion driven by expression's essential culture reflection and dramatic contest persuasions are necessary for appeal. Someone, something, some force must be the target of a narrative's contest opposition: a competitor, a nemesis, a villain, a natural force, a social force, etc. This is so because that's what dramatic arts are, and their function: satire about human vice and folly intended to persuade maturation growth.
John Locke's theories of the pure state of Nature and natural law address a portion of those areas; that is, everyone is born into a pure state of Nature's utter dependence on others for individual well-being, thus naturally selfish, and that natural law asserts individual entitlement to freedom from undue harms. Locke and many similar philosophers miss the one crucial scenario of the two latter principles -- personal social responsibility to others such that as well no undue harms are done to them and that then personal empowerment is supported. Locke misses that third part, as do all empowerment movements: personal responsibility to others and to the whole for the self's responsible benefit.
This writing culture movement paraphrased above no less misses that third part. Empowerment movements invariably sidetrack and are sidetracked due to self-assertions of privilege, entitlement, and right at the expense of appreciation for lacks of personal responsibility, obligation, duty, and accountability to the whole.
My conundrum is whether to weigh in or not. One, yes, weigh in, and shape the discussion from that third basis, so that, lo and behold, empowerment movements at last take hold for benefit to the whole. Two, no, don't weigh in, because if the culture cannot figure it out itself, it is not ready for that third area. Three, yes, reveal the real and true reasons empowerment movements founder. Four, no, don't, because the only real and true design is to lend lip service as success enough -- air grievances only, thus defuse them -- and not ever tolerate full inclusion and participation anyway.
For example, each empowerment faction in some way asserts its rights, somewhat acknowledges others' comparable rights, though places personal rights in first priority position, if not full exclusion of others' participation.
Writing culture, for instance, many are the rights asserted by all and sundry. Every one has a leg to stand on. One major grievance is lack of full inclusion within publication culture. The second leg, though, is responsible for and responsive to publication culture's marketplace principles. In short, the culture follows the money. Does the marketplace appeal to all? Nope, many potential readers self-exclude because they are not appealed to or, if they are are appealed to, on selfish bases.
Let's take, say, middle adults, roughly ages twenty-five through forty-five. That age group is more likely to self-exclude than any other age group. Their lives are more preoccupied by the insistent demands of everyday daily activities than the others'. Literature less than other entertainment activities is not as satisfying and demands a time budget other entertainments do not. That is a global generalization not meant to include all nor exclude anyone, though is valid on its bases.
The responsibility to that audience then is writing to suit their circumstances such that they more self-include. That is oddly secondary, though, to write for the audience first, then they will come.
That above observation that the middle adult audience is otherwise preoccupied beforehand is at the root of such literature's appeals. The audience is not per se underserved; many are the narratives which reach them regardless. Younger readers read up in age. Like early adults will read middle adult, middle adults will read late adult. Middle adults will also read down in age, perhaps even primary and middle grade. Plenty of narrative material from outside the age group to go around. However, the real core of appeals to the age group are shy of full inclusion. Again, that then is the responsibility to the audience that then supports inclusion in the larger social conversation that is writing culture overall.
Pick your audience and serve them responsibly, write to their life complications and rights and obligations to the self and to the whole. Enough, really, solely grievances of exclusion; show that inclusion empowerment is as much a privilege as a responsibility, responsibility more so, if for no other reason than because responsibility has been so much overlooked.
John Kennedy paraphrased: Ask not what writing culture can do for you; ask what you can do for writing culture. And then enjoy inclusion and what writing culture can do for you from appreciating responsibility to it. Yet the rights assertion status quo is entrenched, resistant to change on all axes, and inept of responsibility obligation realization -- balks regardless, well, because that's what's done and self-justified on the bases of that's the way it is, was, and will always be, because everyone else does. The tuo quoque fallacy of misconduct is justified because "you do it too." What Mom said, everyone's jumping off the bridge, do you, too?
To stick my head into the contentious crucible or not. Thus the conundrum.
Posts: 5163 | Registered: Jun 2008
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Weigh in, by all means. Check with Kathleen about weighing in here, so there are other places. But beware of weighing in too much.
In my Internet Fan Fiction days, I hung out with an online group and we debated politics a lot. I weighed in, over and over again. But I also came to two conclusions: (1) that debate on the forums (fora?) in question was participated in and controlled by interested parties, and (2) their opinions weren't mine.
In the end, I found things reached a point so blood-pressure-raising distressing that I did the online equivalent walking away from the whole thing.
Posts: 8728 | Registered: Aug 2005
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I submit that only so far as "writing culture" affects publication opportunities is it worth considering.
If you've ever heard of "long tail marketing," you may know that there is enough of a market in that long tail to make writing to a niche worthwhile, IF you can figure out how to make those in the long tail aware of what you have to offer.
Worrying about whatever "culture" may control (or think it controls) of the market within one standard deviation from the mean may be worthwhile, but I suspect that the only way to really change the "culture" is to affect the market yourself.
In other words, the only words that matter are not the ones directed at the "culture" but the ones that connect with the market. What readers include or exclude may be more important than what the "culture" includes or excludes.
Posts: 8541 | Registered: A Long Time Ago!
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I'm well-acquainted with long-tail distribution models, both data point distribution and product distribution, plus other related processes. The Pareto principle, for example, discussed here some years ago: eighty percent of the effects come from twenty percent of the causes, and twenty percent of the effects come from eighty percent of the causes.
The long tail portion in traditional publication is that of the twenty percent effects, or, actually, from the twenty percent of products sold consume eighty percent of cost expenditures; eighty percent of products sold consume twenty percent of cost expenditures and are more profitable for it. In other words, the traditional publication business model focuses on blockbuster products and leaves niche products alone or for niche markets to distribute and as well bemoans consequent overall market share losses and uncapturable shares they cannot justify to their bottom line because hidebound convenience habits blind their eyes. They don't know how and don't want to adapt.
However, Amazon's business model captures both the head and long tail portions. In fact, Amazon's success is due to its ability to serve the long tail for any and all niches and no less serve the blockbuster marketplace. Brick and mortar booksellers can only serve the head portion and offer a small local interest long tail, otherwise, cannot participate in the whole long tail distribution taper.
My interest in the inclusion movement spans the gamut, both producer and distributor, plus, of course, consumer. The area that most concerns me is that traditional publication enjoys a culture prestige value beyond its current and foreseeable business model's representation of the overall publication culture's. The traditional publication culture model appeals to mass popularity, albeit excludes niches and, therefore, signals a culture supremacy it does not hold in any case, rather, is driven by the pure incentives of art commodification profits, and disenfranchises niche producers.
Those are the grievances of niche producers, and not a few niche distributors, plus that a very few giant conglomerates hold the majority market share head and long tail portions of the marketplace. What does it say that Amazon is the mega-meta-giant of the culture and is a niche distributor? That Amazon reaps the greater share of the revenue, product by product and overall. That's contrary to niche product incentives and appeals, those of artisan creations tailored (sic) to niches that are besmirched by crass materialism.
On the other hand, niche producers grieve that their art doesn't compete against mass production, likewise gripe that the greater financial incentives and rewards of mass production don't reach them. Duh-huh, smaller niche target, smaller returns. Amazon delivers niche products to niche markets, though, again, the greater returns accrue to Amazon, even though Amazon makes ever longer tail niche access practical.
If a producer produces products with a market share of, say, thirty consumers, that's probably the sum and whole of a product's appeal. Is that enough return for the resources a producer invests to enter the market? No, not even close. Except maybe the emotional satisfactions of the net result; sometimes even one consumer reached is satisfaction enough for a time. That great effort invested against trivial returns is what niche producers believe is unconscionable inequity.
They miss, though, that niche products may appeal outside their target niches. More and more they do, due to broader distribution channel access from Digital age technology and exoteric interest therefore. The real and overlooked value of long tail distribution principles is exactly that: reach for and appeal to both the niche and the mass market and all data points in between
Robert Frost's works, though controversial, do the above from narrowed appeals to specifics that transcend their narrowness and become larger than life, universal: New England's cold weather as a metaphor for the lonely human condition. Chilling yet oddly appealing and comforting. We are alone together!?
I read niche works more than many readers do. I get it; those appeal to niches and that's where they usually remain. Such that result in producer grievances are from both rational and irrational causes, rational that they hold possible appeals for larger consumption though are lost among the fray of similar mediocrity, irrational that blame assignment is apportioned to external causes. Works that transcend their niches appeal externally to the whole long tail taper and head or at least broadly enough to achieve a desired end result.
What, an ample enough follower base to support a producer's livelihood? If that's enough, yep. Therein are the satisfactions of the exclusion and inclusion paradigm: write for a niche, expect that's all there will ever be, or write for a niche and transcend the niche's base to as large a follower base as desired or necessary for livelihood support.
Targeting an exoteric group or individual for superficial cynicism, sarcasm, satire, or irony won't transcend a niche. The majority of niche narratives do too closely target their niches' sensibilities and resolve upon their self-absorbed regard for external causes of their life complications, more or less, and preach moral law assertions, if selfish, to the choir. How about the congregation? The community? And apostates? How about universal moral truth discovery instead?
Plenty of human condition moral truth discovery topics to go around for all and sundry, even among, if not more so than otherwise, fantastic fiction.
Meantime, I do write, not to transform the culture, to participate, even if my participation intent is to hold the culture up to a mirror darkly and brightly and ever so slightly.
And Robert Nowall, "fora" is an alternative plural form for forum, forums, means "door" or "doors," one with inherent figurative association and meaning with flora -- wildlife, that is, and also possibly with agora, the forums for public discourse and etc.
quote:Originally posted by extrinsic: An empowerment movement gaining momentum is afoot across the culture and takes numerous approaches. The bases are inclusion and exclusion. No need to name the factions; they know their designs. This is social politics and, narrowly, about writing.
Whenever I become aware of some such postmodernist gibberish or sociopolitical coercion, I am very likely to purposefully exclude it from my writing; one may call that "weighing in" or not, as you wish, but I refuse to be blackmailed. If that means my stories lack marketability to the followers of said cults, oh well!
Posts: 746 | Registered: Dec 2010
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The gists, I guess, of the writing culture inclusion-exclusion discussion are plenty of missed responsibility opportunities to go around for all and sundry, and never enough self-gratification satisfaction to go around, and stubbornness to change will always be around.
The first could be more satisfied by greater attention lavished on responsibility attention, for writing culture, on craft's functions proportioned to creative expression. Plus, the aspect of craft more forefront is to lavish attention on the specific to achieve the universal, appeal, that is.
Realistic self-gratification satisfaction satisfies from the fact the culture is competitive: the cream rises to the top regardless of niche appealed to; the mediocre and worse perform according to their niche appeal merits. A limited amount of time and space, a saturated if not oversaturated market, means generally lower performance for more products overall, yet a few stand out from the fray.
Commerce, like Nature, abhors oversaturation as much as a vacuum.
The long tail principle and its empirical results show that niche targets are served more comprehensively by technology than traditional culture "head" market targets. In other words, tailored to individual sentiments, sensibilities, tastes, and interests, at times, outside of an individual's cohort group's esoteric cores. The trend is toward evermore individualized consumption, less follow the group's required consumption and conduct imperatives and coercions.
The long tail grows longer and thicker; the head shrinks. Projections imply a metastable marketplace equilibrium will emerge at roughly a sixty percent head market and forty percent long tail market. The Pareto principle skewed by technology and standard Bell curve distribution data points predominant.
The third above, stubbornness -- effectual persuasions and time can satisfy. Otherwise, such is life, will always be a degree of stubborn. Stubbornness is natural and necessary, necessary to mitigate premature change and heedless debut for early adopters, natural to the human condition of the pure state of Nature.