I've never been a fan of improv or jazz. The structure is too chaotic for me. Last night, I went to see my friend Jim Slominski jam with his buddies in Fa Crowned. To be quite honest, I thought it just sounded like a lot of loud noise when I first walked in. Once I'd been there awhile, and had relaxed, I was able to hear the way the three men played off each other. One would take off one musical direction then the others would follow, sometimes racing past. It was exciting to listen to the interplay. I was glad I adjusted my listening and could enjoy their style.
Reading can often be the same. We pick up a book with certain expectations of an author. When they aren't met, disappointment sets in. Jennifer Crusie is discussing this very thing right now.
It's all subjective. We don't all like the same things. Add to that the fact that people read for different reasons; comfort, entertainment, educational. I have books from multiple genres for a variety of moods. It's the same for music.
There's a trend to find something that works then clone the living hell out of it. Even as a writer, I look to what's popular - style, voice and subject matter. I rarely fit in that category but I've always looked to include elements that people are comfortable with.
The reality is that all of the innovation in the world won't see the light of day if it doesn't appeal to someone. It has to sell somewhere. And it's a real balancing act between originality and popularity. It's important to take chances so that we don't stagnate. Not just creatively but in every aspect of our lives.
Fortunately, I stepped away from my preferences last night and found something new. I'm going to do the same thing with an author tomorrow. Just grab something that doesn't fit into my usual pile of familiar reads. I'm certain it will make me a better writer.