Saturday, August 19, 2006

Fame and Success

A couple of commenters on my last post referred to me as a celebrity, and then last night on the radio I heard a program about celebrity-worship in this country and the proliferation of celebrity-profile magazines, complete with a recording of a group of women screaming and carrying on as Tom Cruise appeared.

It was gross--probably similar to the "great is Diana of the Ephesians" episode in the Bible. If I ever turn into a Tom-Cruise type of celebrity, somebody please ship me to Siberia.

It is very interesting, though, this whole thing of success and "being known" and all that. There are a lot of writers out there, I have found, and most of them work really hard, trying to reach that magic point of breaking into the publishing world and then being successful on an ongoing basis.

But there's not a lot of rhyme or reason to it. It's as though there's a row of dominoes, and once you topple the first one, the others follow. Some people push the first one over just by dumb luck, but most people push and push for a long time. If Newspaper A or Magazine X finally publishes your work, then Paper B and Magazine Y will be much more likely to do the same, simply because the others did it first. Similarly, if one medium (newspaper, radio, etc) does a profile about you, others will follow, not because you're so wonderful, but just because the others did it first so you must be noteworthy.

This is not fair. On my side of things, it's easy to feel like I've earned my success and it was all my due, but the fact is that most of it is way beyond my control and there are people who have worked a lot harder than I have and written better stuff, with less success.

Ultimately, beyond God's sovereignty in all this, it comes down to whether or not people connect with your writing. I have been very fortunate in this regard, and I hope I never forget that I really owe my success to those lovely people out there who take the time to read my stuff and shell out money for it.

My neighbor and friend AK tells of the time she met an author that she really liked and who had helped her so much with parenting and her walk with God. AK was so moved to finally meet this woman that she could hardly express her feelings and tried to give her a hug. But the author acted cold and distant, as though she could relate to people only from the distance of the printed page.

I don't want to be like that.

Last night I was at the fair again, for only 3 hours this time. It was a lot quieter but I still talked to a number of people, and one was especially memorable. Her name was Rebecca (spelled like my sister's name) and she had left her AA meeting early to come see me. Teary-eyed, she told me I had made such a difference in her life and when she read my story of Carolyn losing her five children, she decided God isn't a bad God after all--he's actually a good God.

I wanted to hug Rebecca but there was a long table between us so we just shook hands and got teary-eyed together. Her life has been very different from mine, sort of a woman-at-the-well saga, but we connected as women and mothers with hearts seeking after God.

This is the sort of fan I like.

I also owe my success to my wonderful family who root for me and let me write about them and keep things going at home while I'm off to sell books. Read about last night from Amy's perspective here.

Quote of the Day:
"Good luck to you and encourage the daughter!"
--a fan at the fair who really liked Amy's Father's Day guest column


  1. I told mom the thing about if you turned into a Tom Cruise-type celebrity, someone should ship you to Siberia and she said, "Who's Tom Cruise?" So you're more famous than Tom Cruise, at least in someone's eyes.:)

  2. Wow! I just discovered the awesomest blog! It's my aunt's!

    I'm devouring her archives! They're awesome!!

    If you like Dorcas Smucker, you'll like Miriam Iwashige!

  3. Now, now, you don't be knocking Tom Cruise. He is quite...oh forget it!!!!

  4. wow, now you did great at the fair Dorcas. I've done that too... taken 50 books and sold 2 and taken 50 books and needed 100...
    So yes, you never know. and I think your daughter is your runner up for writing. Wow... she does great. Donna