Thursday, October 17, 2013

I don’t want to be famous… anymore



I always loved stories. When I was a little kid my father asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up. Without hesitation I happily replied, “A famous writer.” When I graduated high school and was applying to colleges my father asked me what I want to go to school for? I replied, “I want to be a famous writer.” To which he replied lovingly; “Better have a backup plan.” I spent four years majoring in psychology and philosophy.

When I graduated college my father gave me a book on how to succeed in a corporate interview. He thought it might come in handy when I went out looking for a job. I told him I appreciate all he’s done and his advice, but I wanted to be a famous writer. A week later, I moved to Seattle WA, to live out the hippie-writer life. That was in 1993.

I always dreamed of hitting it big with my books. Selling millions of copies and spending my days sitting on a dock in Key West living out the Hemingway dream while tourists and fans come up and asked for my autograph. All through the 1990’s and well into the new millennium I worked obsessively; writing, querying, making publishing connections, always with that dream of getting famous pushing at the back of my mind and driving me to sacrifice a normal, non-writing life.

For twenty years, I’ve penned novels, short stories, poetry, screenplays, and blog posts. I’ve been recognized by several prestigious writing groups and contests, been interviewed by television, newspaper, and magazines, had a top NY agent for five years, and sold enough books to say I’m mildly successful. But is that enough? I’m not famous.

As I sit here getting older, spending my days trying to get the world to notice my work, I’ve come to the realization that I no longer want to be famous. Getting famous is not so much about possessing raw talent anymore, it’s about interviews, and skyping, and tweeting, and twerking, and surrounding yourself with promoters and marketers who are only interested in you making them money. Ask Miley Cyrus what she went through to make her new album premier at #1 on the charts? A whole lot more than I’d want to do.

I no longer want to be famous because I’ve discovered that I enjoy my anonymity. Recently, I attended a social event in which several people there had read some of my books. I actually felt uncomfortable at the attention they gave me. I would have rather talked about something other than myself that night, but that’s just me.

I don’t write to inflate my ego or attract attention. I write because I have to. I’m hard-wired to do it. I don’t want to invest the tens of thousands of hours and dozens of people it takes to make me a super-star author. I just want to write my books and tell my stories. To all the authors out there spending thousands of hours and dollars trying to hit it big, I applaud your efforts and hope you all become famous. Personally, I prefer living in the shadows.