When I was younger I said, “I want to be a famous writer.” I fantasized about book signings, a bouquet of microphones sprinkled around me, fans asking what I’m currently reading, what inspires me, and why I chose to be a writer. I practiced my half smile with no teeth showing and my head slightly pointed to the right, for the endless photos that will be taken of me, my book, and the star struck reader.
Manjula Martin’s article, “Against Fame: On Publishing, Popularity, and Ambition,” took me by the throat and strangled the truth in me. The main point being, “The desire for fame and the drive to succeed can and do overlap. This is the oddity of practicing a trade in which the attention of other people is required for the performance of your job…fame is just a side effect of success. It’s not success itself.”
I was in the sixth grade when I decided I was going to be a writer. A lot of things happened in the sixth grade; my parents got divorced, I was growing tits, and I won first place in a short story contest. This was the first form of acceptance and praise amidst the chaos of life and preteen hormones. I wrote a story that was strange and a little scary. It was judged by a panel of adults who basically acknowledged my weirdness and applauded me for it. All the attention had me craving for more.
Then, I went to college to study creative writing and I thought I was one step closer to fame. I got cold feet. I was surrounded by writers, painters, illustrators, and photographers, all wanting to create art. It was scary. At first everything and everyone inspired me, but then I became so overwhelmed that I forgot what I was doing there and who I was as a writer.
A couple of years after graduating college, I became too focused on surviving New York City so I took a break from writing. I was telling people I was a writer, but really I was writer who doesn’t write. I am never going to be famous writer so what’s the point? Once in a while, my fantasies of being a famous writer would emerge and I would sit down and write. I sent manuscripts to agencies, hoping to catch my big break, but nothing.
I eventually realized that dreaming to be a famous writer is like riding an escalator to nowhere. There is no real destination, only a fantasy.
Reaching for success has led me to focus on why I write in the first place. I write because like every other artist I have a natural urge to create, to leave a trace of my existence and I choose to do it with words. I want to be successful in writing because who wants to be bad at something they love to do?
Instead of practicing my autograph, I work on my next piece. I play with words and sentences, its' rhythm and tone, instead of daydreaming about the outfits I will wear on my book tour. My goals are to gain confidence in myself and to be respected as a writer. Of course, book signings and interviews will come after my first book.