This is an expansion on a comment Eva made in the Homeschooling post I wrote previously. I’ll put the quote first:
How many people within the box can change things? Many of them won’t even realize that anything needs to be fixed. It’s like Plato’s allegory of the cave. Not everyone can see that what they experience may not be everything to reality. Someone who is outside the cave is the only thing that can bring them out.
This resonates with me beyond the context of the argument because of many factors. I have just finished the draft of a novel called Welcome to Dead City, which is about one teen’s dealings with a city full of zombies turned into a reality show by a corrupt society. I’ve been struggling with editing it, as it’s very edgy in its original form for a young adult book. The character dies in the book multiple times, and as much as I use it to deconstruct violence and the idea of people thinking a zombie apocalypse is fun, there’s been something nagging me about it.
I’ve been debating with Eva about the role of individuality, and I think the problem is just the opposite of this. If you are outside of the cave, you have a hard time relating to the prisoners inside to convince them and bring them out. To expand, if you are too weird, and too much an eclectic individual, it can be a barrier to relating and communicating with others.
And I fully admit I am weird. The things I like about the book are a complete 180 from what a mainstream market would like. I don’t want to go into spoilers, but it’s not completely a “kick ass and take names” style of book, nor a typical YA romance, and is metaphysical at times. My own tastes and likes are different enough from the audience where I’m not sure it can succeed at communicating to others and marketing the book.
The problem with being outside the box and a writer is that you have to write mostly for people inside the box. The analogy of the cave again. Your own individuality can be a barrier to communication, and I’m wondering at what point this happens with me.
Not just me, either. A common thing talked about on many blogs is the problems of the directly Christian market in reaching people outside of it. I wonder if in a way, our own weirdness-a culture of being outside of the box many times from birth-makes it hard for us to communicate. That it is so separate that not only does it have problems reaching nonbelievers, but even many Christians as well.
There’s a lot of worries here, as well as other things on my mind. Like whether a person should transform the existing market or strike out on their own, or whether or not to be a writer means being bluntly honest that your “Christian anime style” may never sell, or may not even be wanted. Whether it means for all the griping about bonnet romances, the only way to influence people is to write a better bonnet romance, or just give up and write mainstream romances with deeply encoded Christianity for your believing fans. In addition to whether or not I can even do this.
Not many answers, and a lot of questions. A little heavy thinking over the holiday season, as well. In a way, it was easier to let the dream of writing stay dead. You worry a lot more now when you actually try to create than when you just consume.