The question of does it matter if your work is remembered, or if it will even be widely seen or noticed is one I've thought about a lot. As an artist, I definitely strongly desire for my work to be seen and remembered. Writing, is after all, partly a passion to communicate with an audience.So, is it [Jacques-Louis David's Death of Marat] a good painting? Shama thinks so. It is a painting which has outlived both its artist and its purpose.As someone who creates things, what are we to make of that? What is the purpose of art--fodder for tomorrow's advertising (I remember my horror when I realized that Dance of the Sugarplum Fairies would be remembered as "Smurfberry Crunch is fun to eat."Is it better that it be remembered at all? There are countless pieces of art in all fields which will disappear without even a poor imitation to their name. I am depressed just reading lit mags, thinking of all the people who will never see this poem or this story, or this drawing.It stops me from creating. Clearly it doesn't stop others--I put this out to Writing Life x3 and Mirror as people who actually do create and produce things in there spheres.
The remembrance part: I don't think too much about that anymore. However, I recently bumped into someone from
Do I think about potential audience when writing? No, and yes.
At the very start of a project, when I'm framing some of the basic direction of the piece, I am conscious as to whether it has a remote chance of being published and widely seen or read. I don't only pick projects that I think will be bestsellers or huge Broadway hits. (As if I'd know.) But I wouldn't spend 2-3 years on a project, if I didn't have some idea that it could reach an audience. Sometimes I realize later that my assessment of potential audience was complete self-delusion. A great deal of writing day after day is just finding ways to keep that bubble of self-delusion comfortably inflated. (The world will be happy to deflate the bubble once the final draft is complete.) (I spent 5 years writing a full-length play about the history of the creation of the English Bible. I'm glad I wrote it. It's had good readings and workshops and done well in competition. But I've had to accept that it might never be widely produced, or might (note the self delusion creeping in--the proper term here is probably) never be produced at all. )
Once I've committed to the project, though, I have to write the truth of the piece for me, whatever that is. (That sounds so hifalutin, doesn't it?) The production or publication process is so drawn out, that there's no point in trying to second guess the market, or even consider the latest fads, while I'm writing. Who knows what will fascinate people by the time I'm done? The trick is to get whatever depth out of it that I can provide. That, and a bit of good luck, is the only thing that gives it a chance to reach people after that.
As for them remembering it later, again, I think that's luck as much as quality. Or maybe, as discussed in this post by Mirror up to Nature, the luck has a lot to do with the rest of the life of the author and where he or she fits in with society. What's the story of the author and the times? I don't know. Once you're a writer and have lots of writer friends, you know there are scads of talented people out there with great manuscripts that will never be widely read. The bullshit story told to beginning writers--if you write something great, it'll get published/produced/staged--is a fiction designed to keep the pipeline producing more work for the producers and publishers to choose from.