It's strange how easily I can write for this blog, even when I am at a complete loss for words for any other writing I need to do. Last week, I stared blankly at my word processor for over 10 hours across four days, trying to come up with something meaningful for the March issue of Muslim Link. I couldn't. I wrote a few lines here and there, but nothing that stood out as something I was willing to have published.
Muslim Link prints over 10,000 copies per month and is distributed in three cities, so anything I write there has a fairly sizable audience. Normally, I don't worry about audiences, but somehow I could not do it this time. The weight of my writers block was too much, and thus, I scrapped everything I had written and gave up.
The title "Irrelevant Opinions" works because it reminds me that I'm writing for myself. Whether I have an audience or not is irrelevant. Occasionally, I will write something that no one will understand, or at least, only a few will be able to interpret the meaning. And as far as I'm concerned, that's perfectly fine. A friend once suggested an 80/20 split on the generality of writing: 80% should be easily understood by everyone, while 20% could be reserved for a "niche" audience. Often, I will go for the opposite, that 80% of my meaning will be for myself and a handful of others who might understand the background, while just 20% can be understood at face value. And I will continue doing this, lest I start worrying about the lowest common denominator.
Bill Watterson, the author of Calvin and Hobbes, refused to license his characters or his work for fear that it would become impersonal. Even though he had an audience of over 2,400 newspapers worldwide, he always insisted that he was writing the comics only for himself and his wife. That kept the characters honest and entertaining, as the comics kept a strong personal voice until the very last strip was published. He put everything he had into it, rather than sell out and run a massive media empire as Jim Davis has done with Garfield. And we all know how funny Garfield has been for the last 15 years.
Perhaps this is why the short film "More" meant so much to me. Last week, I came across this six-minute animated short that was nominated for an Academy Award. The movie is available on-line for anyone interested; Quicktime is required to view it. I've developed a number of different interpretations of this, and am interested to see how others view it.