The artist or writer who tries to create art that everyone likes can never transcend. The writer writes because he must write, even if he cannot persuade a large enough audience to achieve widespread appreciation (fame). Those writers who can appeal to everyone are likely failing to take a stand with their craft. I don’t mean with the message; I mean with their craft.
I am not decrying those very special writers who create stories that impact all of us, such as Tolkien. But Tolkien did so much that never made it into his book. The development of his world was personal, selfish. He created detailed maps, languages; he envisioned epics. Lord of the Rings may have widespread appeal, but its artistic consistency precisely consists in its authenticity. Its authenticity is derived from the author’s selfish, perhaps total, personal investment.
There is a danger in this observation. Its point can be used to justify some of the most wretched work. Great art exists on a knife’s edge. One can fall off at any moment. The prose poem in the hand of Elizabeth Smart is exalted expression; in the hand of most other writers, it is a wretched exercise — not just awful, but God-awful (not a pun; a theological category). A great artist or writer must hate at least as much as he loves, but probably more.