Writing About Writing
What kind of book would I want? Which would you choose?
Famous in my lifetime, forgotten after, OR disregarded in my lifetime, discovered after I die, and heralded as a work of genius for the next 500 years? In this scenario, both is not an option.
Easy. Fame while I am alive to enjoy it. If it were to come after, I would never know. If I am around post-death, I would assume pressing afterlife business that would take precedence over my Amazon sales ranking. (As of yesterday, ranked 8,572,548 in Books for my PR project [Writing Life].)
My answer might be different if I had an Artistic Statement that I felt the world need to hear, whether or not said world was for said statement. Don’t got one. Never claimed to be more than a commercial hack.
Besides, nothing is totally forgotten. My work would still exist in some dusty corner of a library or the Internet. A lost grad student might stumble on my book and find herself enchanted. I did this with Fanny Fern. Never heard of her, have you? “In the mid-nineteenth century (she) became the highest-paid newspaper columnist in the United States.” Fanny Fern in The New York Ledger
A break-out bestseller/prize-winner IF everything I write afterwards is rejected by publishers or sinks without a trace when self-published?
Hmm. Maybe if the bestseller was a massive tome over which I labored for years and then walked away from the keyboard forever. If I continued to write, I suspect rejection in the present would overwhelm any appreciation of the accomplishments from the past.
What if the one-shot is a brilliant work that creates a new science fiction/fantasy sub-genre, such as William Gibson and cyberpunk?
This one is more tempting. I could eat out on a new sub-genre for years. Plus, the mystery. Why hasn’t she written anything since??
I like the book BUT it is met with critical and public scorn?
Unlikely. Even if I started out committed to the book, my self-belief would never stand up to universal disapproval.
Critical praise but no money and public derision?
Deeply unlikely. To the point I can’t even imagine the scenario. I have no use for the literary world; the literary world has no use for me.
I could see being content with a slim volume of stories that attracted a small but loyal following while being ignored by the rest of the world. We could wallow in clique-ish superiority together [A Plea for Hobby Tolerance].
I realize this discussion is moot. No one can choose their reception. Still, it makes an interesting thought experiment. Which values take priority? Clearly, I crave public approval. This is not a newsflash.
I want everyone to like me, all of the time. And to tell me so. Often. [I’m Baaaaaack … With Camera 2013]
I think my answers also say that am interested in entertaining folks & in connecting with readers. If they don’t, they should.
Your turn. Which?
Thanks for reading,