Which is more important, fame or wealth?

zergrush

Gives a whole new meaning to "commuter".

A co-worker asked me this question after taking a long overdue glance over my blog.

I sincerely replied, “Neither, really.” And wondered aloud why he’d asked the question. He said because I make frequent mention of both.

Ahhh…

The honest truth is that in one real sense, I wouldn’t give a damn whether I ever made a dime from my writing, so long as I’m satisfied with my stories and so are my readers.

But all my readers so far are friends. Or friends of friends. Even when Megan’s coworker insists that Woman’s Best Friend freaked him out and scared him, I still know he would never have found my website if he didn’t know Megan personally.

The point here is that I can write the greatest story ever written, and even be reasonably sure that I’m that good. But I’ll always wonder and doubt, until the story is popular among total strangers.

Money and notoriety aren’t the name of the game. Becoming a good storyteller is the name of the game. But how do you measure how good of a storyteller you are?

…by fame and wealth.

That may seem crass, and it may seem shallow, and indeed, it certainly isn’t all there is. For instance, J.K. Rowling is plenty wealthy and famous, but while I find her work entertaining, I don’t really find it inspiring. And I’m sure there are many brilliant writers who are still in “starving artist” mode.

But it is a measure of personal success as a writer. And it’s the most visible one for others to recognize. It represents the dream that someday, my friend who called me an amateur writer (the same one who asked me this question) will get invited to my lake cabin to see what my “amateur” writings have bought me.

Also, it is very hard to make a consistent living solely as a novelist or short story writer. If I told you the hourly rate I’d make even if all my stories sold in first draft, you’d cringe. Just about the only way to be that comfortable as a fiction writer is to make it SO big, you have all the money (and therefore all the time) that you want.

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I took the above picture myself today in Chapel Hill. I guess that driver will be buying Starcraft 2. I look forward to stomping him. (After finishing a terrific story, of course.)

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  • Mr. Snuggles

    Wealth, and knowing people all over the world like your work would be cool. Personally, if I were a novelist I would prefer to write under a fake name. Fame is not something I would ever crave. It’s like having the best of both worlds. You get the money, and the satisfaction of knowing people love your work, but you don’t have to deal with the crappy side of fame. Obviously, if you get too big, it will become common knowledge who you are. I’m not talking Stephen King type stuff, but someone with at least 3 or 4 novels in most bookstores in America. That amount of success, under a fake name, and I would be happy as a clam. Ever considered a pseudonym, Jason? Or should I call you Marvin Wigglesworth from now on?

  • Jason R. Peters

    I have considered pseudonyms many times. The problem is that I’m too proud and I really want all my ex-girlfriends to see those 3 or 4 novels each time they walk into a bookstore. MWAHAHAHAHAHA!

    Vanity, vanity, all is vanity.

    Plus which, writers don’t usually have to deal with the negative aspects most famous people deal with. You and I both know who Stephen King is, but I wouldn’t know him from Adam if he showed up on my doorstep.

  • Justin

    You know my friend has that license plate….

    • Jason R. Peters

      Who?? Robbie, Panda, or someone else?

  • Justin

    Kyle Miller, He works for Robby right now. @Jason R. Peters

  • Justin

    We have been friends with him since high school. I have given him crap about his plate before i was like really dude? lol @Justin

  • Jason R. Peters

    I love those plates. I followed him a little ways just to get that picture.

  • Justin

    btw i think you mean starcraft 2

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