Conversation # 11 : On Being Mainstream or Being “indie”

Enter Stage left.

Scene: Starbucks.

“… and that’s why I asked that question that one time on Twitter, would you rather be mainstream or indie?” I said.

H, looked thoughtful, batting her long eyelashes skyward.

I do know that this conversation is turning boring now to those of you that are into the indie scene. Its something that has been done and has crept up everywhere for the past two years or so, since the trend of mix tapes, colourful skinny jeans and thick-framed glasses happened.

But today’s conversation really wasn’t about bashing the mainstream or indie tag, or heralding any of them.

The conversation that day stemmed more from an annoyance at how mediocre content still remains the most popular, while actual intellectual work of definitive substance doesn’t get the same recognition. From the futility of The Arts, to once again, being under-appreciated by society.

“I guess the question could also be said, for example… being a GP or a specialist.”

“GPs see and serve all types of people. People are always just going in and out [of their offices]. The common cold, flu, fever…”

“Whereas a specialist, only specializes in meeting one type of need… and if you happen to be a specialist, sure maybe you’d get less patients, but you’re still pretty important.”

“I guess its still a balance to be made…”

I appreciated the analogy and nodded in silence.

H asked some really important questions that day that I suppose would fall flat if I didn’t give a proper context. Now I’m really careful to say things like this in case it comes off as a brag, but it really isn’t. So here’s the context: I was sharing my joys at the “micro” fame that happened when the man behind the My Generasi video picked up the post that I wrote on their video. He shared it with his Twitter followers, and a peak happened in my blog statistics.

That slight brush with people actually reading what I wrote at first, caused joy, but shortly after, a wave of anxiety that followed. This is the constant paradox isn’t it? Writers on one hand want people to consume their content, but yet do not want to be, for a lack of a better word “selling-out”.  Also as an added streak, now with people watching you really don’t want to fail in front of everyone.

I told H all of that. I was comparing my need to have a audience for the sake of my future career, but worried that it would change me.

H asked, ” Well, okay. Look at it this way. How did that make you feel?”

“Were you happy because he read it? Or were you happy because of the attention it got after that?”

I told her as honestly as I could, that of course people reading my posts makes me happy. But to be known and liked by the creator of that video was really the greatest compliment of all because it was like THE stamp of approval.

But the truth is, as soon as people started reading what I wrote. I felt the pressure to change the things I wrote about into the things people wanted to read.

The truth is, I don’t know. Being read by the masses will gain me a livelihood, but conforming will cause me to really, write nothing of significance at all. And that’s not where I want to be.

Well maybe I’m jumping the gun here. I’m nowhere near “making it”. But it did get me thinking about the kinds of things I wanted to produce, and what really, gives me the most fulfillment in writing.

I know, my content these days have been riddled by these same themes, but I can’t help it. My mind’s filled with it.

So until next time.

Thank you H.

Good talk.

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