If you ever drive northeast toward Atlanta on I-185 or northwest toward Birmingham on I-65 you might happen to see a sign for a little burg in Alabama by the name of Eclectic. From what I can find out about the place, the unusual name hasn’t caused an influx of curious outsiders wanting to settle down in a town with such a quaint name. The general population lives below the poverty level and has barely managed to pass 1000 souls in over a century. On one bright note for men, there’s 1.3 adult women for every adult male.
ec·lec·tic : Deriving ideas, style, or taste from a broad and diverse range of sources.
Now I am sure there are a lot fine folks in Eclectic but I just hope the growth of a town with such a name isn’t prophetic concerning my hopes for a career as a writer. We live in an age of hyper specialization in which everything is about target markets. Even churches have fallen prey to the idea they need to target a specific generational and socio-economic group in order to grow and “impact culture.” And, writers are told they must settle on a genre and target that audience in order to be published or successful once published.
So what happens to those of us who gravitate in ten directions at once? I have been somewhat eclectic most of my life. As a child I devoured Marvel Comics, missionary stories, and the Time-Life Encyclopedia of Facts as though all came from the same publisher. As a teenager my musical tastes were almost schizophrenic. Depending on the particular statement of teenage angst I wanted to make or the all too rare times of joy produced by the latest girl in my life, I might be listening to anything. Pink Floyd, Blue Oyster Cult and John Denver had to co-exist in my musical universe. It’s just the way it was.
So here I am, a 54 year old man who writes small group Bible studies, social media marketing content for corporations and small businesses, political and historical op-ed pieces, and let’s not forget – fiction. Even in fiction I’m not one of those people who reads just one thing. As much as I tried to limit my interest to suspense, since that is the genre of my novel being shopped around, it hasn’t worked too well. I equally loved Athol Dickson’s Lost Mission and Marc Schooley’s König’s Fire. Trust me, all they hold in common is they are both great reads that make you think.
Sometime before the day is over I will take time to catch up on the latest episode of the new Sci-Fi series, Falling Skies and will probably watch another rerun of Monk or Andy Griffith with my wife. This morning I have alternated between Hillsong, Mumford and Sons and My Blue Heaven with Joe “Blue” Giorello while first writing a blog post for a plastic surgeon and now this piece of eclectic meandering. I love Cajun, creole, Spanish, Indian, Greek and plain old Southern cooking.
To some I am a man of many tastes, to others I am a jack-of-all-trades, and to others just plain messed up. I would love to be that person who has devoted his life to one field of interest, to be so narrowly focused that I excel in it like no one else. Since I just switched Pandora from Memphis Blues to Celtic Traditional, things don’t look too promising.
Even in writing this post I broke every rule of sound SEO (search engine optimization). My title is not keyword strong. And who knows what kind of Google search will find this? I mean who out there is searching for an article about Athol Dickson listening to Blue Oyster Cult while eating Curry Chicken? Can anyone out there help me? Then again, maybe you are one of those who hears of a place called Eclectic and wonders if maybe it wouldn’t be such a bad place to live after all.