Saturday, April 7, 2012

On Fame, Solitude, and Writing

When asked about their ideal future, over sixty percent of teenagers wanted to be famousThis seems to be a recent phenomenon. Perhaps it is the result of reality TV and celebrities like Paris Hilton, who isn’t known for any particular talent. Most of the teenagers polled had no idea how to be famous or had no talent in particular. They just wanted fame.

Upon hearing this, I look back on my own childhood. I remember wanting to be a writer. I think the last thing I wanted was fame. I loved stories and words more than anything. I thought that being paid to write would be the coolest thing in the world. I foresaw a peaceful life where I sit in my own backyard with only my typewriter as my companion. I wanted success so I could be away from people and indulge in my own fantasy world. Unfortunately, fame is a horrible side effect of success. If people don’t like me, I won’t sell books. If I don’t sell books, I won’t get paid for doing what I like.

Most writers prefer solitude over accolades and adoring fans. These days, we are expected to be highly involved in marketing strategies and promotional activities. Someone once told me that it was the price of fame. I had to remind him that fame was never my ultimate goal.

Yet, everyone assumes it is. They tell me that with my body, I can draw slews of fans if I wore something proactive and posed for the camera. But will that sell books? Maybe it will get me more hits on twitter but will that make me feel like I’ve achieved my dream? Today, I sit here, realizing that the original dream was to be left alone with my craft. If I could get paid for writing, I could escape all the other crap. It was a na├»ve, childhood fantasy, totally void of reality. After all, why would I want to be the center of attention? Why would I want my private life on display for everyone to judge? Why would I want to hear the constant snickering of people who hate me for being loved? There is something very scary about fame. Could it be that the fear of popularity can get in the way of success? After all, once you have a devoted following, you can lose them at the turn of a coin.

I don’t know what to say to kids who want to be famous. It’s amazing that anyone would want that kind of craziness over a life of peace and love. What happened to the idea of being good at something and getting paid for it? Perhaps kids don’t get enough attention these days. They are brushed aside as we check our iphones. I don’t know. If I were to say anything to youngsters, I think it would be that I hope their path has a heart in it. I hope they aren’t selling their souls to earn the unreliable love of strangers. I know this isn’t much of a blog for youngsters. I mostly just blog about what pops up in my head because that’s what I like to do. I know I don’t do it for the fame.