Fame or Reclusivity?

The Daily Post posted their daily prompt with A Bookish Choice:

“A literary-minded witch gives you a choice: with a flick of the wand, you can become either an obscure novelist whose work will be admired and studied by a select few for decades, or a popular paperback author whose books give pleasure to millions. Which do you choose?”


Wow, this is a tough one, I must say.  Makes me think of a quote from one of the many movies wherein the late, great Robin Williams says, “Oh, to be free!  Not to have to go, ‘Poof!  What do you need?  Poof!  What do you need?  Poof!  What do you need?’ To be my own master.  Such a thing would be greater than all the magic and all the treasure in the world.”

To be my own master.  To be free from fear — not so much a fear of failure but more of a fear of success.  I fear fame.  I fear being known, being recognized, being a household name.  I’ve published before but only after making sure to stick that under a safe and secure pen name as not to be known.  It’s a hairy scary monster.  To be owned by your agent and/or publisher until your contract ends is scary.  I don’t want to live in a bottle and have someone own me.

If I knew I could publish, perhaps make it onto the NYT best sellers list, make enough money to live on the rest of my life, give my mom enough money to retire and live on the rest of her life, give my daughter enough money for college, buy her a safe car, give her the wedding of her dreams and buy her first house for her, while still keeping a low profile, not have to go out into the world marketing my book, not having to participate in speaking engagements, not having to be interviewed on tv/radio, not be recognized when I’m at the grocery store or any other public place, living a somewhat reclusive lifestyle, then yes, make me a popular paperback author whose books give pleasure to millions.  Make my books into movies so I can see them on the silver screen larger than life and finally outside of the movie that plays in my head and on paper.  Bring my imagination to life and help it spark others’ imaginations to dream and write and create — to live in the fantasy worlds that only they can create and have them share their worlds with others.  How fun would that be?  But to be known?  To be famous?  To be recognized?  I’m not sure if that is worth it if you have to have the fame along with the fortune.  It’s not like I want a billion dollars.  I don’t want to be filthy stinking rich.  I just want enough to live on, help out my family and the poor.

People scare me.  Don’t get me wrong, I love people.  I’ve met so many interesting people all over the world just through the blogosphere, but to have to present myself before a group of people?  And talk?  Out loud?  Uh-uh.  That’s not for me.  I dropped out of college because I could not manage to do the oral presentations at the end of some of those classes for crying out loud!

If I could make a living as an obscure novelist whose work would be admired and studied by a select few for decades, would that provide me the money to live on?  I doubt it.

So I suppose a choice has to be made.  *heavy sigh*  I would take the popular paperback author route.  I would earn my small fortune, fulfill my contract as far as I was forced to, making sure to eventually get my life back after completion of said number of books, traveling and speaking, etc., then I’d go into hiding and at least attempt to become a recluse.

I sometimes wish we were still in the days where famous authors could get their books out there, make enough to live on, while still keeping a low profile.  Ah, the good ole days.


Author: Carol B Sessums

Writer, Editor, Coffee Addict, Lover of Mountains. Lives to shrink the planet, one story and connection at a time.

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