I keep coming back to the idea that some creative folks, especially those just starting off in some creative field, don't really know how to follow their hearts. They go by what other people respond to; they think, If this is likely to be popular with people, then it's worth working on.
This is fine if the only metric you care about is, well, metrics — how many readers, how many copies, how many eyes. But I'm finding such things work against the finer development of one's own sensibilities. If you're conditioning yourself to be interested most in the things that other people are interested in, you don't get as much of a chance to look down into yourself and find out what you are most interested in.
Sometimes that stuff won't map to anything other people are doing at all; sometimes it'll overlap perfectly. It shouldn't matter. You can't make yourself have fun, and you can't make yourself a fan of things you deliver to other people if it comes at the cost of not delivering anything that's really yours.
Let me put my bias on the table. I'm most in favor of people doing their own thing creatively even if it means it faces little in the way of an audience. The hard part is taking this stand without also making it into a defense of things that are just plain bad art — things with no conceivable audience. Not in the sense of no target demographic, but in the sense that there's no conversation, so to speak, between what the work is putting out and what the audience brings to it.
A lot of modern art is bad in this sense, because it only encourages the interest of a small, self-selecting group that is primed to find the work — it's exclusive, not inclusive. A lot of popular art is bad because it puts audience appeal above everything else — it's inclusive to the point of being indiscriminate, and tries to please everyone. Surely middle ground exists; surely it's worth finding and cultivating.