Recently a friend of mine attended a book signing event that was held here in Austin, Texas, and surprised me with a question I’d never been asked before. In fact, I’d never really given the idea any thought.
He asked me if I wanted to be famous.
Was the idea of achieving fame my ultimate goal in writing books? For those of you who do not know me, the answer is no, that is not what I am after. Nevertheless, the question was intriguing.
There are several well-known authors out there today who have been highly successful. James Patterson, Bernard Cornwall, and Clive Cussler are just a few that immediately spring to mind. It would be more than fair to say that they have achieved a significant amount of fame. But, in my opinion, it is a different kind of fame than most people think of when they hear that word.
Here’s one of the best examples of what I mean by that, and I shared this with my friend.
Ian Fleming is well known as the author who penned the James Bond novels. We know his name, but do we know the man? I told my friend that if, at this moment, the most famous author in the United States came in and sat down next to us, would we even recognize him? In most cases, with most people, the answer would be no.
That in and of itself is what is so appealing to me as a writer. Your name, or your books, may one day achieve fame, but despite that you retain your anonymity. Now, that said, is there a message I’m trying to get out through my writing that does inspire me? Yes, most definitely, but that’s for another day, another time.
A few days later my wife and I were at dinner with a couple to whom we are very close. The subject of writing came up and, once again, it was a friend who pointed out something to me that I’d never heard or considered.
He told me that writers, through their works, achieve immortality. This is true. One of my favorite authors passed away a few years ago, Robert B. Parker (sadly, no relation). He may be gone, but I still continue to enjoy his books over and over again and he continues to attract new fans.
So, given a choice of momentary fame or everlasting immortality, which would you choose? I’ve made my choice.