Does the Audience Matter? 4
Along these same lines, poet George Seferis said, in his Paris Review interview (Issue 50, Fall 1970):
And then I should ask, perhaps, if this situation of not having a very large audience has something good in it, too. I mean, that it educates you in a certain way: not to consider that great audiences are the most important reward on this earth. I consider that even if I have three people who read me, I mean really read me, it is enough. That reminds me of a conversation I had once upon a time during the only glimpse I ever had of Henri Michaux. It was when he had a stopover in Athens, coming from Egypt, I think. He came ashore while his ship was in Pireaus, just in order to have a look at the Acropolis. And he told me on that occasion: "You know, my dear, a man who has only one reader is not a writer. A man who has two readers is not a writer, either. But a man who has three readers"—and he pronounced "three readers" as though they were three million—"that man is really a writer."
it's not that fame and popularity are inherently bad. It's that the pursuit of fame and popularity are a pernicious form of attachment that can only lead to personal sorrow. High expectations for fame and the plaudits of posterity are not fulfilling to me as a writer. In fact, attachment to fame can kill the creative process entirely, because it becomes too easy to pander, to fall into pleasing the expectations of the lowest common denominator among the audience, and to change what one writes based on an opinion poll or other ratings game. That's how politicians know what to say and do, and that's bad enough: writers who use opinion polls to direct their writing, well, what is that but commercial marketing? I'm not saying marketing is never creative, because creativity can appear in everyday form in every occupation—it's how you do things that marks them as creative, not what you're doing—but it's bad enough that the publishers of best-sellers have formulae about plot, character, and style that they know sells books. I'm sorry, there's just no better way to say it: Market-driven writing is a sin against the muse.