from Jeff (commenter #3):
"I blame us – writers, but also editors and publishers of short fiction. My wife, who is not a writer but an avid reader, is rather fond of telling me (when I am down, depressed, and angry) that if I want people to read what I write, I have to write things people want to read. This advise goes against everything your [sic] taught as a writer, but it is also profoundly true."
Why has the comment held on? Because it is true. Too true.
I've bristled against popular "art" in the past. If art (be it writing, visual arts, music, performing arts...) is boiled down to "paste-pudding" (to steal a term from Ray Bradbury's Fahrenheit 451), it loses something. Make art accessible to everyone, and it is bland. Simple. Easy to ingest. Not art anymore.
Case in point:
Isn't this the kind of joke we used to make in college (while we were drunk)? How did it become an industry?
So call me a snob. I want my art, and my writing, to challenge me. I've felt the short story was the pinnacle of the "art" of writing for some time. Yes, there are wonderful, challenging novels out there, but most of what we're fed is paste-pudding. Short fiction in the highest paid magazines (and most well-read, even though they sport meager numbers) is more original, better written, more "artful" than popular novels--thus making itself (and the magazines which publish it) less accessible...less popular.