Everybody’s still obsessed with celebrity. In an era when you can follow on twitter your next-door neighbor and probably have a better chance of reaching him or her, we still fall for the trap of idolizing people just because they are famous. Maybe it’s an LA thing, but I find myself and others more obsessed with becoming famous than writing anything good. It’s a trap, and it’s scary.
I think every writer needs to take a step back from their career and ask, “Why am I doing this?” It’s not enough that you want a book contract. It’s not enough that you want fans on Facebook. I know, everyone is in it to win it, but why win something, like a fan base, if you can’t justify it? There’s no satisfaction in just being famous; besides the money, the adoration, and the free swag, who cares, right? OK, fine, a lot of people care. But there are deeper rewards and they exist outside the arena of celebrity.
The belief in writing has to be stronger than the desire for fame. Your words making a difference on the page have to be of greater concern than the swag at the back of an awards show. I forget who wrote this, but somebody much smarter than me wrote that books are like daughters, you want them to be regarded by a couple of people, not the whole town. I’m sure I butchered that quote, but you get the point. It’s better to have good fans versus many fans (although the latter is probably more lucrative, cf. Stephenie Meyer). But hopefully by the time you do get famous, you will have earned it, you know? That’s good fame. Nobody I know is there yet, but as long as you’re on that path, and you’re honest, and you’re writing, what else do you really need?
Besides swag goodie bags…
Y’know, I’ve never been that into celebrities… Never had posters of guys on my wall or in my binders, never dreamt about them, never really wanted to be them. What I like about being a writer is that even if I become famous (barring Meyer or Rowling status) people still won’t recognize me going down the aisle at the grocery store. My stories and maybe my name will be famous, but not my face. (Which is good, because my face looks goofy a lot of the time. :P)
That said, I’m definitely a sponge personality, so I can imagine how I might change if I were in LA. (Or NYC.) I think you’re right, it’s absolutely easy to get caught up in that world, and let it take you away from what’s really important.
The fame yearning thing is more akin, for me anyway, to the need to push myself as a writer. For awhile, I think I became complacent with my work. If it is a good and readable I am beyond stoked. But then I started thinking, shouldn’t I want more than that? Shouldn’t I be pushing my writing to the edge, trying new things, upping the ante? Readable is really a terrible goal when you think about it.
I agree, but just like any profession, writing is a business. A lot of the times, money is more important than art, especially when it comes down to our physical survival.
It’s natural selection… a dog eat dog type of thing, and LA is the epitome of that mantra.
The hard thing is to find that delicate balance that will make us all happy. Unfortunately there is greed in others that will make it hard for people to produce art without compromise.
Although, there are artists that produced beautiful art, like Monet for instance, and never really made a dime off of it. If I’m not mistaken, I believe his fame rose after his death.
Essentially, I equate fame with $.
Kristan–Hmm, agreed. The story is important to me. Who cares who wrote it, right? For example, Vonnegut was an absentee dad, but can’t I still enjoy Slaughterhouse Five? Right?
Rebecca–Agreed. You have to care more about the writing than the readers. If they come, great, but if not, you can still have something that you are proud of. Then again, your readers can push you in directions you never saw for yourself.
Sammy–Nice points. It’s depressing but true–Lady Gaga earns more per year than, say, the members of Beulah. Does that make her a better artist? I wouldn’t say so. Be curious to hear your opinion.