1. The Tourist
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    The Tourist Banned

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    Fear of success?

    Discussion in 'The Lounge' started by The Tourist, Apr 6, 2012.

    Even as a newer member, I see lots of threads discussing getting that first novel published. I see subtle signs of "preparing for failure."

    Failure doesn't bother me much. You lift weights on Monday, you hurt on Tuesday. It's a part of the process.

    The problem I face--in many pursuits--is losing anonymity. I was a very social guy in the first half of my life, now I shut my cell phone off more and more--even for clients. When Christopher Cross used the line "the time that I spend alone," I clearly related to the song lyric. And that was about 1980.

    We just had three mega-lottery winners. Their lives will never be the same. I wonder how they will feel next year at this time when the public just won't go away.

    There is a part of me that looks forward to a time where a publisher and I rip the story apart for the last time before a deal is struck and the book is printed.

    There is an equal dread about any fame that disrupts the life I enjoy now. I had to make nice last night with a family of a client who dumped a lot of cash on my kitchen table. What if that had been on a lazy summer afternoon with a clear sky?

    Should I consider a nom de plume, or just use a Mafia name? Maybe then I could sleep late, not that I ever do now...
     
  2. Daydream
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    Daydream Contributing Member Contributor

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    You could always become a ghost writer if fame doesn't suit you? :) No one but your publishers and close friends/family would know you'd written the books.
     
  3. superpsycho
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    superpsycho Contributing Member

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    You can have success and avoid fame but it limits how far you can go. I have no use for fame, I've seen what it does to some people. I cherish my anonymity and plan to keep it. That doesn't me I won't try to make my work the best it can be.
     
  4. shadowwalker
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    shadowwalker Contributing Member Contributor

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    I'm seriously considering a pen name for just that reason. Even if it's just the hometown rag's article, I don't want to stop and chat with people about The Book. Or The Writing. Or Anything Else Famous People Get Asked. It probably means a few less sales, but that's fine (though I doubt publicity and 'social networking' really means that much to most readers - I don't get running around the internet looking for my favorite authors).
     
  5. The Tourist
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    The Tourist Banned

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    In this day and age I don't think anything is really secret, at least not as long as there are tweeners in their mom's basement with pizza rolls and a search engine.

    True story, a few years ago in another forum a member asked where I lived. I gave out what I thought was vague, nondescript information. A few minutes later he showed a picture of the front of my house.

    Granted, it was an older realty photo, but the speed in which he found the info was startling. And truth be told, I'm not really hiding, I never thought I had to.

    There are things beyond money and clout. I work less, and despise interruptions more and more. But just like in any pursuit, the time to think about consequences is well before you find yourself embroiled in them. I approach writing as a job--now. But the fact remains, it could be a curse later.
     
  6. VM80
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    VM80 Contributing Member Contributor

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    I think many writers are (and remain) relatively anonymous.

    If you think about it, the Dan Browns and J.K. Rowlings of the world are exceptions. Even they are (as far as I'm aware) not relentlessly hounded by the press.

    Lottery winners sharing their news, well... I think that's not a wise move. Their choice though. I'd keep quiet. ;)
     
  7. superpsycho
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    superpsycho Contributing Member

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    A lot of the technology people use today I helped create. But I don't have a cell phone, blog, facebook account, tweeter account, or any thing else like that. I don't give any detailed personal information out. I prefer to be productive and those things chew up more time then I care to give them. I allow myself this and another forum but they don't really take up a lot of time and I can have them up on different screens so they don't interfere with what I'm doing. I'm a big believer in time management and a lot of technology is a waste of my time. It's serves no purpose but to promote yourself which I have no desire to do.
     
  8. The Tourist
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    The Tourist Banned

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    I don't think it's possible. I don't even think it's possible to "go off the grid." There are things I want, like certain licenses, credit cards, club participations, that can be crafted together like a news net to obtain other personal information. After all, how many of us after using up a prescription, just toss the pill bottle away?

    That one gesture can completely open up your life to every other personal aspect you can imagine. And that's just for us common idiots.

    Imagine if someone had a driven purpose to find us?

    Edit: There's a very real part of me that would just sell a successful book to one of you for pin-money and walk away in denial.
     
  9. jazzabel
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    jazzabel Contributing Member Contributor

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    I've been through a simulation of fame twice before. I wrote a really popular blog and had everything, from the fans, haters, stalkers, pryers into my real life, censorship, inciting offers for more fame, the works. On a really tiny scale, I lived through what someone who suddenly becomes famous for their writing might go through. I learned so much, I am rely grateful for that opportunity.

    My conclusions so far have been:
    1. Never, ever, ever use your real name. Likewise, never give out any personal info to anyone other than the people who pay you, and even then, tell them the bare minimum.

    2. Despite all kinds of coersions, it is me who is ultimately in control. Publishers, editors, agents, fans and critics, but also friends and family will all have demands and expectations, both of me as well as of my story, but ultimately I decide what I want and don't want to do.

    3. Fame is interesting only until the novelty wears off. After that, you get stuck with having to be at everyone's disposal and if you are not, they'll crucify you. So it's best to maintain aloof distance from the beginning, appear as a kind but scarce person, so everyone likes you but feels a strong sense that intruding is unacceptable. It's an art, maintaining that kind of persona, but in my opinion it is the best compromise with fame.

    4. There's a healthy caution and then there's paranoia. I may become a bestselling author but I am not the centre of the Universe. I live my life in a way that even if my deepest, darkest secrets came out, I would have nothing to be ashamed of. As long as I am a decent person, with goodness in my heart, and not obsessing with all kinds of disasters that may or may not befall me, I will probably maintain a good karmic balance between rewards and dangers and manage to have a happy life as well as a successful career.

    Bottom line is - the audience wants to read a good book. The publishers and agents want to earn money from representing a good book. I want to do what I love, whilst I sit with my loved ones on the balcony overlooking our own private beach somewhere sunny and warm. All else is less important.
    I am an avid reader and I never felt a particular need to meet a writer I liked. It's the books that I care about, so to me, whether a writer does book signings or not is of no consequence. I am occasionally interested to read an interview with them, or to see a picture on the back cover, but even that is not essential. Writing a really good book is ultimately all that matters in this business, and writers are notorious for keeping their real identities a secret, so your concerns are probably the norm.
     
  10. The Tourist
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    The Tourist Banned

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    And there's the other unattractive aspect. Fame provides you a certain insulation. And look at how marginally famous people and former politicians are treated by the press. This type of "gotcha journalism" should draw the death penalty.

    Sometimes I do spot grocery shopping, and many times I have to wait in the 'express line' behind some idiot with two full carts of items. I peruse the tabloids. You'd be amazed at how many times Kim Kardashian's keester makes the news.

    We can laugh about the pin-heads who support that kind of journalism, but the fact remains that it wouldn't be printed if it didn't sell. In this discussion we have used the term "stalker," and I feel that's a very real assessment.

    For example, Mr. T was a bouncer and bodyguard. After he became famous he hired bodyguards. it's a weird world.
     
  11. Erato
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    Erato Contributing Member

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    If I ever wrote anything really fantastic, and if I ever published it, and if it was a bestseller, I probably wouldn't want the enormous fame that would result; but those are ludicrously enormous ifs so I'm not really worried. I'll cross that bridge when I come to it.
     
  12. shadowwalker
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    shadowwalker Contributing Member Contributor

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    But then again, look at most of those people on the tabloids - they don't exactly go out of their way to be invisible. They want that publicity, don't think they don't! For many of them, staying in the tabloids is their only claim to fame - heck, their only claim to anything. Granted, there are some celebrities who are hounded no matter what they do or say, and that's horrible. But we need to differentiate between the seekers and the hiders...
     
  13. jazzabel
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    jazzabel Contributing Member Contributor

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    Haha, yes, well, when I read this I was sure you were joking but then I read the name "Kardashian" and... well, I can see the appeal :D But the thing is, I think, there are people who simply crave fame and willingly engage in the lowest common denominator activities, both jurnos and the "celebs", but still, there are plenty of people in the public eye who command respect and they get it. I'm thinking of Julia Roberts, George Clooney types of the movie world, but there are others, activists, politicians, artists, businessmen/women etc who aren't media-whores and they don't get treated as such.

    I believe i's all a matter of what you project; if it's class, good sense of humour, not taking yourself too seriously, generosity and absence of scandalous affairs with drugs, sex, money and such, it's a pretty good recipe for decent life in the public eye. But many people get caught out in it because they didn't consider it before they became famous. Also, young people; the younger you are, the more easily influenced and there's lot of really bad influence in that world. The ones who remember where they came from, and keep focused on the important things, are usually not eaten up by it (fame).

    Stalkers, however, are a whole different kettle of fish. There's no way of knowing if one will latch on, but if they do, it's a nightmare.

    ps. exactly what shadowwalker said
     
  14. Fullmetal Xeno
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    Fullmetal Xeno Protector of Literature Contributor

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    I don't want to be famous, just looked upon as a inspiring person to all future writers for my writing.
     
  15. Drusilla
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    Drusilla Active Member

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    What if the person grows too attached to what he or she has written? If your work is published (under another person's name), there is no way out! You might feel like you have just sold a piece of your soul.


    The Tourist, you shouldn't worry too much. Even if you might get famous, most writers don't get all that much media attention. Even J.K. Rowling doesn't get as much media attention as the Hollywood stars.

    If you don't want to be famous, then you could use a pseudonym. But I wouldn't worry much. The fewest writers who publish books actually become FAMOUS.
     
  16. killbill
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    killbill Contributing Member

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    The greatness of a person lies in not losing oneself in the lows and highs of life. The trick is to smile for the chasing cameras but never stopped saying 'hello' to your neighbours.
     
  17. The Tourist
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    Hmmm. All good points. I also believe that 'fame' has to come a certain time in a person's life, and that time does not include me.

    If a guy writes for a living, a 'buzz' about his next book or a huge movie deal not only pays his rent but whets the appetite for a new novel of a sequel. That individual should seek a little notoriety amid a huge market of new material and the internet.

    However, my life is more fixed. I like my life. I can shut the computer off, go do a little work for a client, go to the gym or just go back to bed. I don't want to go to Cleveland for a whirlwind 'meet and greet' book deal.

    The idea of a "chrome de plume" has merit. But is anything really that secure now? And unless you hire a fake writer to pass, you are going to interface with the industry at some future time.

    Now, the chances of success might be slim, but if we just accept this "never happens to me" mindset, why are we here looking for advice, or burning the midnight oil, or doing reseach over seemingly minor details and plot points?

    It's because we want our stories to be read by other people than just our maiden aunts. And ask yourself, would you consider this a worthwhile pursuit if the all of this work results in the executor of your estate opening a locked drawer in your office and finds only a half finished manuscript under a stack of pornography and a half-eaten cheese sandwich?

    The first year paralegal reached out to drawer knob and ripped the elbow in his threadbare suit. Boy, that's the last time he'll buy a bargain Dior at a flea market, even with the second pair of pants. But someone has to tear apart the moldering possessions of the dead, whose status in life is unchanged by a disease-ridden demise.

    "I hope that blonde bimbo gave me the right key this time," the paralegal spit under his breath, "the senior partner hired her more for how she fills out a sweater rather than how her she fills out simple tasks."

    But in a pleasant surprise he found the old key, more verdigris than validity, easily tripped the lock and allowed him to tug at the warped runners of drawer.

    "Yikes, old cheese sandwiches, why is it always cheese sandwiches?"

    The paralegal wasn't even surprised to find the desiccated crumple of what passed as a manuscript. He read the working title out loud, "The Lesbian Vampires of Lisbon."

    As disgusted as that sounded, the first sentence just made the bile swish within his mouth, "The clouds blanketed the moon and a storm was moving in..."

    Then his mood instantly brightened, "Wow, old Playboys!"
     
  18. Lasers123
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    You dont have to promote yourself if your famous. You can just sit back, dont do anything stupid, and ignore the press but respect and thank your fans - because you created your work for them as well as yourself.
    Some people like the fame and thrive in it. But there will always be the option of being recognized and admired, but you dont have to listen to what others say - just stay as yourself.
    If i was famous, i wouldnt consider myself to be famous or a celebrity, but just a ordinary person who accomplished an admirable task. I wouldnt let fame change my attitude to life, or let it change my way of life.
     
  19. The Tourist
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    The Tourist Banned

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    I'm not sure modern folks know the difference between an earned commodity from hard work and just flashy celebrity. Knowing that, I want a buffer. In fact, it might be a better idea for me if the publisher told potential readers that my work was from "lost manuscripts" found after 'my death.'
     
  20. shadowwalker
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    shadowwalker Contributing Member Contributor

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    I intend to be the Notoriously Famous Reclusive Author and giggle over the tabloid headlines: "What she's really like..." :D
     
  21. The Tourist
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    The Tourist Banned

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    You need not worry, the statute of limitations for being a 'bomb thrower' is well past.

    But, seriously, you bring up a good point. Why we want any celebrity at all knowing that we are going to be ripped to shreds for some transient newspaper story? Who's to say any of the story will be true, even 'facts' can taken out of context.

    Hey, I got arrested on a weapons charge. I had to pay fifty bucks. But I'll bet you a chocolate cookie that if I'm ever published some idiot is going to report, "Using the written language to redeem himself from a life of crime..."
     
  22. Link the Writer
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    Link the Writer Flipping Out For A Good Story. Contributor

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    In my case, I was a sickly child with a shit load of medical problems. Knowing my luck, if I get published, someone's going to put down something like, "In an effort to cope with the illnesses he suffered as a child, and his disabilities, John puts his pains on his characters..." painting me as some tortured author, when it can't be any more opposite.

    But, I think it shouldn't matter what others think. If they want to think you're some former criminal on a path of redemption, or that I have a dark and angsty past, let them.

    We should probably look at reality. If I publish, the most that'll happen is that, likely, I'll be that guy in a town in Alabama who writes stories.

    I don't know though. :/
     
  23. Ezyro
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    Great thread/great topic. I too am wary of success which is why it has prevented me from actually pursuing my dream. As I get older, I start to realize just how precious privacy is in this crazy technology obsessed world where it is no longer just celebrities that gets put under a microscope. You pick your booger in public and it ends up on youtube the same night. J.D Salinger and George Orwell would both share a collective heart attack if they existed in today's society.

    I've longed for those days where it's just a man and his typewriter even though I never existed in times like those. Computer was already part of my childhood growing up. There is nothing wrong with a computer. A computer by itself is a useful tool. It is the internet that is distracting.

    As a private individual, it will be hard to keep that anonymity when you've given the world something that strikes oil. I ask myself how I will cope if that happens? You were saying about those lottery winners not going to have the same life again? you're absolutely correct. They are never going to be the same again. And winning the lottery may sound nice and all but the burden that comes with it isn't worth all the trouble. I'll take digging for coins under the couch any day over a million dollar and world of hurting from winning the lottery. I don't play the lottery because of it. No sir, I don't care how big the jackpot is. I'll continue making money the hard way.

    ...through blood and sweat.


    On the other hand, having a small fan base isn't going to hurt anything. You are still creating for an audience. I'm more suited for an indie type career. Obscure, unknown and only a handful of people knows me. We're thinking too big here by acting like we're going to reach J.K Rowling status. Hehe.
     
  24. The Tourist
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    The Tourist Banned

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    I get what you mean, but that 'privacy' term might seem funny if you knew me. I want to live 'privately,' that is, I want to make decisions in my singular fashion. Once made, I don't want a lot of windmill fuel about it. In the application, however, I live loud.

    And you're right, your life is then under a microscope. The idea of shallow graves and paparazzi is intriguing, but after the first ten or eleven disappear I'm sure the finger will start to point at me.

    By 'private' I mean more coming and going without a lot of hassle any time I wish. Today was cold and windy, not good for riding. I hit the gym as usual and then curled up with a latte' and a book at B&N. I had no meetings to attend, no schedule beyond feeding the mutts, even my own knife was sharp.

    Once you're retired, any appointment, even one for the dentist in the late afternoon, seems to cramp your style. I think I'll take the 'Amidala route' if I become famous. I'll ride in the little plane, and let the hired idiot get blown up in the debris.
     
  25. heyitsmary
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    There is definitely a lack of privacy these days. Moreso for those who put their names and/or work out there for the world to see, but everyone has to deal with it to a certain degree. This is coming from someone who has lived in small towns her entire life -- no matter who you are, people will always find out your business. If you still have your anonymity, people might not care as much. But a part of you will probably wish at some point that they did, just to feel important. There's an upside and a downside to everything. I guess my point is that, unless you live in a cave and never interact with anyone, you're never going to have complete anonymity, and there are upsides and downsides to both failure and success.
     

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