Fame or fortune, which would you prefer? Both, of course!
Week Three in the Writerly Chronicles from my Orangeberry Book Tour:
This question reminds me of the old: ‘what would you wish for, if you had three wishes?’ Well, I’d wish for three more wishes.
Fame and fortune for a writer are both good things, I’d argue.
Fame means the fulfillment of every writer’s greatest desire, to not only see their work in print, but to know that many readers are not only reading the story, but by inference of its popularity, enjoying it and recommending it to others. (I’m assuming you’ve attained fame via your book’s popularity, not through other, perhaps less savory means.)
Knowing what great pleasure reading a really good book brings me, and wishing to achieve the same in my own writing has been one of my great motivators. Writing a book that gains popularity and is enjoyed by readers would be a wonderful indication that I’ve achieved my goal. And of course, that is the caveat of the quest for fame. One would want to achieve it as evidence of a book’s positive impact on the reader.
The flip side, becoming infamous for something I’ve written such as James Frey’s evisceration after the revealing of A Million Little Pieces, is a much less appealing way to enjoy fame. Although one could argue that Mr. Frey’s fortune from the same book went miles to assuage his discomfort.
Which brings us to fortune.
Wild riches, perhaps on par with J.K. Rowling, or on a lesser scale, with a New York Times best-selling thriller writer, might bring a lot of time-consuming duties that would cut into one’s writing time. After all, someone has to be found to manage all that money. But, the greatest gift of fortune, or let’s call it ‘financial independence’ is: freedom.
Financial independence allows the writer the time to write without the burden of simultaneously carrying a full-time job, while keeping the house clean, and being the primary caretaker of children or aging parents. It truly makes ‘a room of one’s own’ possible. It provides the writer with the psychological and physical space to breathe and think and dream and create new stories.
I have never wanted to be rich, but I will always strive to create enough monetary wealth to provide freedom. As for fame…only if it comes from readers who love my books. As an avid reader myself, that would be the nicest gift of all.