Monday, September 13, 2010

To Hate is to Love? A guide to creative success.

I have this absolutely absurd theory: That an anti-fan club is a greater sign of success than a fan club.

What? You ask. First let me preface by saying I often think of how I can make a full time living as a writer and artist. In those thoughts I consider how I might grow an audience and make enough money to not need a "day job".

As a creative, I know that I can not possibly please everyone, no matter how good I get in my craft. I could write an improbably wonderful novel or create a beautiful illustration and in the subjective eye of many it will appear either wonderful, passable, drab, horrible, uninspired, and any other descriptor that may come to the mind of the masses. It is a simple fact we all have to live with IF we want success, because everyone's taste is subjective: colored by their world-view and experiences thus far.

Most creatives start out in a vastly different environment, amongst a heyday of appraise from friends and family and a small (but growing) network of supporters.

But one day, if we're lucky, that will all change.

One day hundreds, thousands, maybe even millions will want to see, read, listen, experience and talk about your work. Here comes the problem: Criticism. I know that during a creative's rise, they will invariably face constructive critiques, but in large they will be tempered by the knowledge that this individual is trying to improve and words are held back. Encouragement is the focus.

Once the cloak of obscurity is removed though, there can be a loss of interest in stroking egoes. Brutal honesty, even rabid attacks come forward. I've heard Brandon Sanderson mention before that after a while he stopped reading the reviews...because it was too much of a downer and a poor use of his time (perhaps engendering too much doubt as well). We can't please them all. It's not possible. To do so would make our work lifeless and dull...well, except to those few people that actually like, lifeless and dull.

If you are lucky enough to rise to such meteoric success, then you may very well have the extreme prestige of an anti-fan club with the likes of Rowling, Meyer, Tolkien, etc. With Great Fame comes Great Loathing. Be prepared.

With this in mind, I wonder: Is it the Fame that brings the Loathing, or is it the Loathing that brings the Fame?

Spurious claims you say? Maybe.

Since I am not yet popular, I lack a fan OR anti-fan club to say for sure. I know I can not yet earn the former, but can I ask for the latter? Would having an anti-fan club elevate me to fame and prosperity?

Or would it just be really, really mean?

Because I'm absurd like that, I'd like to take a moment now to ask if anybody wants to register and run Any takers? (Just keep in mind that you might get some angry Canadians, as Clifton Hill is also a major tourist promenade in Canada, close to Niagara Falls. Or you could get some annoyed Aussies, as it is also a suburb near Melbourne, among other localities.)

I suppose nobody will take on the task. So I will bide my time and hope that one day I am popular enough to earn my very own...anti-fan club.


  1. You bring up an interesting point here. I've gotten plenty of constructive and positive feedback from other people before, and that's good.

    But I'm actually with you on the dreaming of having someone say they thought my writing stank up the place. It's not that my writing really does. I'm just looking forward to having someone say that, because then I'll know I've made it.

  2. Dare to dream Jeffrey. Dare to dream... ;-)

  3. Fame is a fickle friend. What counts in the end is how many books you sell.

    Look at such polarizing figures as Obama, or Ann Coulter. People tend to like them not out of genuine respect, but because they hate the people who hate them.

    If you ever want to see the master of manipulating people using both sides of fame, read up on P. T. Barnum. Amazing character.

    BTW, you have to be published before you can be hated. Once you get that book out there, I'll be happy to sign up for the "Clifton Hill Sucks" group on Facebook.

  4. Nice. Always good to have a supporter. ;-)

    P.T. Barnum? Really? I know nothing of him other than he helped establish the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus.

    Well I just find the benefit and cost of fame to be interesting. For instance, I know little about Meyer, have read Twilight and though I can say I am no fan. I also don't harbor the undying anger that some do for her. Bottom line is she got lucky, and there's no real reason to get all out of sorts with her for that. Then of course there are those that are angered by her bastardization of the vampire mythos. Really? Why? If you don't like her making sparkly vampires, don't read about them and don't watch the movies.

    Now of course I will probably reduce my argument here to dust by turning around and lambasting some other piece of art. Or rather, something posing as such.

    But this negative attention that some of the biggies garner does actually drive more awareness of their craft. Let's face it, media tends to latch onto the negative. Does it sell more books? I don't know about that, but I'd love to see a survey support or refute that.



Thanks for reading, now tell me what you think.