Day 249. Go Figure

Pete Armetta had an interesting blog post yesterday.  He wrote about the effort he puts into his work, how not everything he writes starts off well, and how he applauseconstantly hones a piece, sometimes for months at a time.  I really admire his work ethic and the pride he takes in what he does.

But something else he said really got me thinking.  He talked about how, sometimes, people seem to like and appreciate the pieces of his work he likes the least, passing over the work he’s the most proud of.  And how confounding that can be.

It made me think of my own experiences.

Truth be told, I think it happens to everyone.  I think it happens to all writers at some time in their career.  To all artists and photographers and choreographers and architects and chefs.  To anyone who creates.  But what I’m trying to figure out, to understand, is why.

My father manufactured children’s hats.  And to this day I can hear him, talking with my mother over dinner, expressing surprise each time they would show the collection to retailers.  Inevitably the hats everyone thought would sell well, didn’t.  And the ones no one had confidence in, sold like hotcakes.

Same story when I worked in the fashion industry.  No matter which collection it was, no matter the designer, each season brought the same results.  The top sellers usually turned out to surprise us all.  Same with advertising.

Sometimes clients would pick the concepts we all loved the most, but most often, not.  It’s the reason why I always told the creative teams who worked for me, to always present at least three different concepts, and to make sure they liked them all.  Never present something you don’t like; or are even ambivalent about.  Because the last thing you’d want is to end up producing something you hated.

So what is it?  Why is it we’re so seldom on the same page?

Are we so far removed from the consuming public, we don’t have a clue what their hot buttons are?  Their likes and dislikes?  Is our aesthetic that different?  Do we really live in our own, little world?  I find it hard to believe.  Because if true, they wouldn’t like anything we do, don’t you think?  I really can’t figure it out.

After I spent a while pondering all of this yesterday, I looked at my own stats, here on WordPress.  I don’t publish anything I don’t like.  But having said that, I am sometimes surprised at the posts that get the most views.  The most ‘likes’.  The most comments.  Not always, but sometimes.

What’s really fascinating about it is, it’s globally consistent.  When a particular story I write gets tons of visits, the map is ablaze.  The piece literally has universal appeal.  And the findings are exactly the same when viewership is lower.  It lacks appeal everywhere.  It’s not to say results are great or not so great in the U.S. or in France or in India.  It’s everywhere.

Explain that to me, please.  Because I find it absolutely mind blowing.

Wouldn’t you like to know what it takes to please everyone?  To make sure your idea, or your story, or your painting, or your clothes, or your homes, or your cars would sell?

Imagine.  A world without rejects.  What kind of an impact would that have on business?  What happens to all the stuff no one ever buys, anyway?  Where does it go?  Imagine if we could put an end to all that.  Would we be any happier?

10 thoughts on “Day 249. Go Figure

  1. I was almost horrified when my “Lend A Hand” was Freshly Pressed. It took no time at all to write and to me was silly rambling and not worth much. Anyone can like anything.

    I used to work in a “shlock shop” which I liked. You know the kind, buying/selling used furniture, kitschy retro-chic collectors items etc. Lots tacky. I learned then anyone can like anything because people would buy the most horrifying things! 🙂

    I’m glad to see this gave you food for thought. And you never post anything you don’t like? When you do let me know cause I want to read that! 🙂

      • I was shy about it. Insecure drfinitely. But if I’d really disliked it or thought it was badly written I would never have posted it. It’s like what I always told the teams in my department. Only present what you like (and is good and right for the client obviously) because you’ll end up living with it. Same goes for me. And posting is just another form of presenting.

  2. I have had the same experience and I too can’t figure it out. I have a story I loved writing and reads out loud quite well. Yet, it’s probably only one of MY favorite stories! Who knows what will go over well? I certainly don’t!

  3. Oh yes… I know this phenomenon all too well. No matter how well you think you know your audience, they will always surprise you with their tastes. I think we just have such a unique point of view when it comes to our creative projects that it’s impossible to judge the reaction any of our works will get from people who only see the finished product, and not the process that went into making it…

    • You make a very good point. Thanks. We are subjective about our own creations. Nothing wrong with that, it just means we see it differently.

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