What I should be doing in my blog is involving readers by asking questions and looking for feedback. What I should be doing is referencing what is hot in my particular genre at the moment so that people are attracted to my posts and come to associate my brand with other, more popular brands.
I can’t do that. To begin with, I’m really not sure what my genre is. Sure, when publishing my books, I was forced to choose where my books would be listed (they’re listed under horror and suspense in some form or another). But I don’t really care to be lumped into some great mass where each book is a slight shade different from all of the others, where the reader’s expectations are paramount. Nor do I like the idea that those who like sci-fi, mystery, or any other genre would necessarily be uninterested in anything I have to write. I like to think that what I write, no matter where it falls in the lists, has something universal to say.
But that is not the world we live in. Today, we have so much information that we must categorize it in some fashion. We must summarize everything so that we can get the bigger picture without fussing too much over the details. We are each the CEOs of our own business, none of us having the time to dig too deeply into the essential stuff of existence.
We are missing something as the result of this mindset. Those simplifications that are made are not made by us but by larger forces. Corporations and marketing departments determine the best way to present product in order to maximize sales. In allowing ourselves to accept the categorizations, we slowly forget to question the basic assumptions that created those categories. We surrender our ability to think in order to get through life more quickly, to do and consume more.
For me to reach the maximum amount of people, I must brand myself in such a manner that appeals to people’s uncritical responses. They must subconsciously form decisions about my book that will lure them onwards. All potential barriers, such as complex ideas or unpopular opinions, must be swept away in order to increase my appeal.
Again, I can’t do that. I’d like to think it was a moral choice, but the older I get the more I realize that I don’t have much choice in the matter. There is just something deep down inside of me that rebels at the concept, some sense of individuality. I am an individual and I hope to speak to other individuals. Or at least, we all have some aspect to us that is unique or uniquely human, and I wish to connect that aspect of myself to others. I want to believe that in truly being myself I can better understand and appreciate others, rather than believing I have to limit myself in order to fit in on a superficial level with similarly stunted people. I wish to believe…no, I DO believe that we can all be individuals and yet fit in with the world at large. More than that, I believe that we MUST be ourselves before we can truly find our place in the world, that the less afraid we are to be ourselves the more we are able to relate in a positive manner to others.
I’m sure what I’m saying has already been said better by others. I’m sure I’ve read similar sentiments in Mad Magazine or Erich Fromm’s The Sane Society. Nevertheless, I add my voice to those many who have said it before. I know it sounds contradictory to proclaim my individuality by placing myself in the company of others, but the truth is often a paradox. To discover one’s true voice is to discover that it has a natural harmony with those of others, that not by conforming but by being oneself does one find one’s place in the world. But really, I think the Kinks said it best: