Why do people buy stories? Why do people pay story-tellers to tell them the stories that they’ve gathered out in the world?
I’m not talking about the bulk of book & movie purchases, which seems to be fiction: made-up, complicated and modernised versions of ancient themes. They’re generally reassurances that all is well – even when they’re about serial-killers and child-torturers we feel better because we know that it isn’t happening in our little corner of the world.
When it comes to someone going out and experiencing the world and then coming back and interpreting what they’ve seen for people back at home, (ie the stuff I’m trying to do here) I’ve experienced four attitudes:
1. You go and look, and tell me what’s going on, I’ve got plenty of stuff here to keep me busy, but I am interested in what’s out there and what you think.
2. I’m afraid that I may be wrong about how the world works, please show me evidence that I’m right after all.
3. Even though I hate to admit that I’m wrong, I know that I grow most by hearing different points of view. Give me something to fight against and maybe learn.
4. I don’t really get what you’re doing and I don’t have time to work it out for myself.
5. La-la-la! I’m not listening! Go away, you’re wrong, your methods are wrong, I hate you, etc.
So far, I think, I’ve only really engaged with Types 1, 5 and to a certain extent 4 where I’ve tried to turn them into a Type 1 – because within Type 1 there are those who will pay up front to make sure this kind of thing happens and there are those who won’t.
Types 2, 3, 4 and some Type 5s (yikes!) are the next stage of engagement. I haven’t had to deal with this yet because I haven’t really done any interpretation, I’ve simply reported on what happened, sometimes what I thought about it, but not really in any depth.
But this is where the real value is, this is where the benefits emerge for readers: “evidence that I’m right”, “growth… something to fight against and maybe learn”, having something presented simply that “I don’t have time to work out for myself”
Things that they might be willing to pay for in one form or another.