Celebrity and the Author

OK, hands up!  How many authors reading this want to achieve Celebrity status?  How far do you want that celebrity to go?  Your books in all the big chains, a constant round of book signings, lecture tours, invitations to conventions in the genre(s) you write in, award ceremonies and major literary awards to your name, being listed on respected Top Seller lists, radio interviews, TV appearances, your books made into TV series or even movies, recognition wherever you go, wealth, relentless pursuit by the paparazzi?  Do you set limits on what you’re willing to accept, or endure, for your celebrity?

Personally, I don’t crave celebrity.  In fact, the thought of Fame makes me shudder in horror.  In all honesty, without any false modesty, all I would like is to know that I have written something that has given others some pleasure.  Even having a ‘publicity’ photo’ taken fills me with dread.  I can certainly live without making any kind of personal appearance.  It’s a character trait, simple as that.  Even as a small child, the first thing people would comment on was how quiet I was.  That was quickly followed by the observation that I was shy.  That was normal behaviour – imagine how much more pronounced it became when there were strangers around!  Of course, I would like to make a god amount of money from my writing.  That’s normal.  I’ve never had money of any significant amount and it would be nice to be comfortably well off.  I’d have to be insane for anything else to be true.

I still wonder, though.  How many new writers are pursuing the money and the celebrity, rather than obeying a deeply felt need to write?  I guess I can make an assumption for those who write the ‘get rich quick’, and some varieties of ‘self help’, books.  But what about the rest?  Are you honest enough with yourself, let alone others, to admit if you lust for celebrity and use that as a significant motivational force in your writing?  Does it colour your choice of genre?  Have you leapt onto a ‘bandwagon’ to exploit it’s popularity simply to gain that celebrity, or do you genuinely enjoy the genre, both in reading and writing?  Maybe you just want ordinary Fame, a notoriety that says that you are respected for your writing but doesn’t impose too powerfully on your life, and privacy?  Do you, perhaps, hide behind a penname and refuse to have any photographs of yourself published?  If you do desire celebrity, would you feel offended if you were not recognised by those you meet?

I will reveal something here.  I not only have no desire for celebrity myself, I’ve never been impressed that somebody else is a celebrity.  Whatever the scandal sheets might like us to believe, there’s no way we can know what a celebrity is really like.  Let’s face it, we have enough trouble understanding people we’re close to!  It’s possible that I have, in the past, offended the famous, by not showing any overt excitement at meeting them.  For example, in just one instance, our sons brought home a new friend one day.  They were all fans of Games Workshop’s Warhammer/Warhammer 40K and that was enough for them.  They had met at the local Games Workshop section of a major local department store.  A while later, the young lad’s father arrived to collect him.  Naturally, he was invited in.  While his son prepared to drag himself away from the games, he viewed our gathering of cockatiels, which we had just started to breed.  He was fascinated and told us that he had a friend who bred cockatoos.  There was nothing false about him.  I liked him, and that’s uncommon for me, in so short a time.  When he had his son safely in tow, he departed with genuinely friendly words and thanks for looking after his boy (though we’d done nothing more than let him be).  After he had departed, and my wife had come back into the living room, I mentioned the man was none other than Griff Rhys Jones, then famed as a comedian, though he is also an actor, writer and TV presenter.  She was astonished, though she had had strong suspicions (I’m afraid she struggles at times with putting names to faces).  Of course, when she mentioned this fact to our sons, it was utterly meaningless to them.  They had never seen him (that they could recall) so his fame was somewhat less impressive to them.   If I offended him by not acknowledging him as anything more than a visitor, then I apologise.  In truth, I don’t believe it worried him in the slightest!  There must be times when celebrity wears you down.

So, what’s your ambition?  Celebrity?  Simple notoriety?  Or just read and enjoyed?

~ Steve

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About Steve

An author since the age of 13 years, writing again dominates my activities. My "Imagineer-ing" blog is my primary site. Also: Beginner knitter since November 2010. Favourite knitting techniques: cable and lace. Beginner cross stitcher. Beginner jewellery maker. With the promotion of self publication and all the other work that has been going on here, Dad decided around 2am this morning (22/11/2013) that it was time to begin his next adventure. He was seen off earlier the previous evening by myself, my brother, my sister in law, and my sister, as well as his wife (our mum), and an enigmatic being known only as A Lorraine. After this time of story telling, laughing, crying, joking and mickey taking, we saw how tired both mum and dad were, and we decided to leave them under the (sometimes) gentle care of The Lorraine. When Dad found the timetable for his travels, he let Mum know gently, which woke her from her drowsing, then, with the same gentleness he showed in this universe, he boarded his favourite mode of transport, the Interdimensional Steam Train, and set off with a smile and a wave. For those of us closest, that smile was a reminder that his pain has ended, and the wave, an indicator that he will pop in to all those that knew him, from time to time. Usually at the most inconvenient and in opportune moments he can. While we are sad that he is no longer here, we are happy he now has no pain, and is experiencing more extraordinary things that his writers mind will be frantically weaving into a new story. Posted by Son Damien

19 thoughts on “Celebrity and the Author

  1. Great post, Steve. I love the anecdote that you’ve used. It’s brilliant and the picture fits perfectly into what you’ve written.

    I want to write and for my writing to be well-received (but not to the point of being a celebrity – I like privacy in my life). I find it hard to see reason to write if there are not people who can relate/enjoy my writing, which may be problematic to rely on fully. However, I hope to someday have a better niche carved out for myself and one that brings in some pocket money (a natural desire in this era). I don’t want fame, but there’s a point when I have to admit that, although I love writing simply for the sake of it and because it’s a passion that I cannot shake, I do still want people to enjoy it enough that I can make a living from it or make a living from the combination of things that I enjoy, which is only really about survival and survival while doing what I love to do.

    I hope someday to strengthen my writing enough that it will be good enough for many people, but I can’t say the end I desire is fame.

    I don’t even care to be wealthy, but I care to have enough money to carve out my future, in a place of my own and not on the streets (perhaps that is one definition of ‘wealth’ – well yes, but I don’t want excessive riches)! I wish I could make enough from my work that I could carve out a future for me and my partner too.

    Again, I always strive to write things that people enjoy. I am chuffed when people enjoy my work without a buck from it. Indeed it would be lovely if I could say my dream is simply to be read and enjoyed and while it is something I wish for, especially if I can write enough to create books or to publish more works, in this era I feel I also have to dream to be paid for my writing, because with the high costs of living, I’ve gotta think of something, which doesn’t entail celebrity but I’m just writing my thoughts aloud and hoping for a future in writing because I NEED to write.

  2. I’m in it for the money, the girls or boys, the wild parties, the adoring fans, the sports cars, signings in Paris, London, Rome, drugs, wine and endless parties. Hang on, this is not Hollywood. I’m out a here.

  3. Aside from writing because I have to I suppose that my main ambition – apart from earning enough of a living to be able to hide away forever in a shed on a sand-blown coastline somewhere – is to be the relative that always gets drawn hanging upside-down from his branch of the family tree, probably facing into the page rather than out of it.

    I’d much rather have the grudging admiration of a dog and the piqued interest of a tittering readership of two than to be classed as a modern “celebrity” by the non-reading masses. And a Porsche, I’d like the admiration of a dog, a tittering readership and a Porsche.

  4. Not fond of pompous, arrogant people in general, and I’m a real recluse that has to work hard at social networking. I don’t want to be known for being rich and recognisable at all – just want people to relate to what I write, and hopefully enjoy it.

  5. Definitely not what you describe at the top of this post – way over the top for me. I would like my books to sell so that I can finance another round of self-publishing and maybe someday get out of the red.I accept that I must do a few in-person things, but I want to have control over that. I think what I enjoy the most is talking to people about their experiences of reading what I wrote – good or bad – it’s all interesting and enlightening. Mostly I write because I can’t stop now. Whatever will be, will be and all of that.

    • Getting out of the red is a nice thought, Francis 🙂 I’ve rarely ever been there! I’m afraid I just don’t do meeting folk well – unless really pushed. Then, I’d rather sit in the background and let them do all the talking 🙂

    • It’s becoming clear that we’re not alone in not wanting all the trappings that modern society seems to think should be attached to success, Dale 🙂 It’s reassuring, somehow. I guess there are lots of us who would definitely please literary agents/publishers in our reluctance to “perform” 😉

  6. Pingback: Celebrity and the Author | Deeper Meanings &mda...

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