• Bridge Ladies

    Bridge Ladies When I set out to learn about my mother's bridge club, the Jewish octogenarians behind the matching outfits and accessories, I never expected to fall in love with them. This is the story of the ladies, their game, their gen, and the ragged path that led me back to my mother.
  • Archives

A Hustle Here and a Hustle There

FAME: A Five Part Series

Part II

Your Picture Here

Do you have to court fame to get it? Network. Schmooze. Glad hand. Rub shoulders. Back slap. Kiss kiss? Do you need to drink all night at Breadloaf, hold court at Yaddo dinners, buy rounds at Kingfisher? Wear your tangerine seersucker to the latest Paris Review bash? Or did you fall off the parsnip truck, spit and cough your way to life? Did you shove your manuscript through the gate of a reclusive agent, meet an editor, by chance, on a plane?Do you serve yourself up like shrimp at a buffet. Do you dip yourself in cocktail sauce, pull a skewer through you vital organs?Do you write all night on the fire escape, in the boiler room, on a night train to the Czech Republic.

What do you want and how badly do you want it?

51 Responses

  1. thank you for this question. i needed it tonight.

    (and i always dip myself in cocktail sauce. always.)

  2. Living in the middle of BFE, I would give my eyeteeth to drink all night at Breadloaf, hold court at Yaddo.

    And I would rock a tangerine seer sucker suit. Fuck fame. I want the suit.

  3. God, I wish I had the confidence to stand back and allow my work to do the talking. But these days, is that even viable? Retweets ahoy, facebook friends, doing the blog rounds (though that can be delightful).

    I’m going the self publishing route. Hello hello, buy my book, will you review it, thanks a lot, meet you behind the dumpster for a quickie. I mean, I’m an English major, not a marketing whiz. Buy my book? No? Why not? No explanation either? Je suis desole.

    So instead it’s up late trying to build a following for my blog. Studying the inscrutable success of other Twitterites, and looking at my nascent tweets, and wondering: do they blend?

    God, forget fame. Fame is for assholes. Instead, gimme another 20 Twitter followers, another 40 hits on each blog post I write, gimme a couple of people who Like my author page and I am sunset golden, the kind of light that hits you horizontal on the beach just before sunset.

    • I’m thinking of the Kindle route. How are you going to do it? Let me know how it goes. I truly believe the querying route may no longer be the way to go.
      When someone on Cracked.com says they enjoyed something I wrote I am thrilled.

  4. Ah, to live, to begin to live. As if, this, this ever changing language thing-a ma-jigger, were the all to tell all. I just read four posts on this blog and I couldn’t make heads or tails out of any of it. Am I getting old? Have I become my grandpa? Goddammit! It wasn’t supposed to be this way! I love reading and reading great writers, usually honest writers, Genet, lately; human puss, some would say, but at least he is honest. I haven’t read any Franzen books, but from the reviews, I gather that he is questioning the over-population of human on our little floating globe. ?. Can we count the instances of the lapse of not only education but intelligence? The world is over populated by humans, really? Holy shit, did he come up with that himself? My god. I dived off that boat after I read The Naked and the Dead. Which, unfortunately, is probably more than sixty years old. Older than it’s author. Maybe not. All I can say in all honesty right now is, what the fuck ever, same old reel, you might as well watch cartoons. It means about the same. I know this sounds like a punch at Franzen but I have never read one of his books. Why? I feel the need to beat the holy living shit out of parasites. I want to squash them like a bed-bug, but I don’t want to end up in jail. I admit, I did read two or three paragraphs from his latest famous book, in a review. The review didn’t sway my opinion, his rich-kid, gee-wiz, where’s the comfort attitude made me want to smash him in the face. But that’s me. Thanks Betsey!

    • I would think it difficult to hold an opnion without having read any of an author’s books. You may agree or disagree, like or not like, but without having read the source material isn’t that just rehashing a reviewer’s thoughts on something rather than your own?
      I’ve read his work, essays and books,and I’ve been there when he’s been interviewed. Nothing about him struck me as gee-wiz, rich-kid. He was generous with his comments, and regretted many of the things that have been taken out of context over the years. Perhaps it’s the fact that he doesn’t bow down and kiss the ass of those who detest him? Just a thought.

    • Be sure you steer clear of Dave Eggers. Totally full of his own sense of entitlement.

  5. I desperately want to be on the night train in Eastern Europe. Alone. For weeks. Meeting strangers.

    I don’t think this bodes well re: fame.

  6. Ah. Fame. Sleeping one’s way to mid-list. All that.

    Some may go the turnip truck route, but most I think are that little girl I saw in a preschool classroom today, holding court at round table, demanding that all the boys recognize her sagacity with little sparklers like: “Teeth are the strongest part of the body.” Which caused the entire table of four-year-olds to nod in agreement.

    It’s all about authority and the tangerine suit.

  7. I’ll do anything except stay up all night.

  8. I’ve wanted much, put in the hours, kissed a bunch of frogs and rings and so far, am still in line for My Turn. I may be in line for awhile as I have a well tuned moral compass, but I’m patient. And I’m making friends along the way.

  9. I want my stuff to be read. And I want enough money so I can support my family while writing more stuff that readers will read.

    Not sure I need fame for that — and expecting it, needing it, is probably not the sane way to go.

    Not that that’s ever stopped me — and I do look stunning in tangerine . . .

  10. I’m fameless and I’m definitely a parsnip truck girl. I never wanted to be a writer. It just happened. I sent my first book to a small publisher in Chicago. It did well. My next two were published by the big guys. If the book I’m working on finds a home-well, good. If it doesn’t, that’s okay, too.

  11. I just want to see my name on the cover. And, now that you mention it, a drink and a tangerine.

  12. I want to support my family. I want it badly enough to put aside my theoretical literary opus and work on a Fancy Nancy knockoff, then a Big Dumb Thriller, then a YA version of the Girl Who Embodied a Dozen Cliches, then to cleanse my refined palate a perverse mashup novella (my previous one I just noticed is now overpriced on the Nook for $0.00) and then, as expenses mount, a desperately Bigger Dumber Thriller.

    And what _is_ that propping up Franzen’s glasses? It’s like he’s single-facedly compensating for four decades of literary Jews, with a nose transplanted from a seven-year-old Irish girl. How did -he- get famous? He’s a Great American Novelist today because he was Oprah’s Little Hot Flash yesterday.

    Wodehouse grant me the serenity.

  13. I think any writer who says they aren’t interested in fame is full of crap. Why are we writing if not to be read and talked about, or connect with other people? Writers who truly aren’t interested in fame don’t seek publication. How we might wear our fame, if we’re lucky enough to achieve that, is another thing altogether. BTW I happen to love both searsucker and the color tangerine but I didn’t know schmooze had a “c” in it.

  14. gullible travelor that’s what I’d become sailing to the shore of publishing with stakes and bungee cords prepared to wrestle a dying giant to the ground. Or not. ambivalence it’s a fame buster.

  15. I want to get from can’t see in the morning to can’t see at night, every day, badly enough to do it. That’s the cake. Anything more is icing.

    I do like icing.

  16. I like to boss people around, tell ’em how to improve themselves, console them, screw them, love them. In short, I am a MOTHER.

    So, yup, wanna be famous. The Big, Fat, Beautiful, Glorious Mother of all Mothers.

  17. I want to be read. And I have gleefully noticed that even the littlest nudge drives the blog stats up. Wish that applied to everything.

  18. All I have ever wanted to do is write, and hopefully make enough money from it so that I could write without doing anything else … so I wrote and wrote and wrote for more than 20 years, and lo and behold, it finally paid off! And now I will get to write, and just write, for a very long time. If fame comes with that, so be it.

    • @Kim Fay: Just visited your website and enjoyed reading about your successes. Mazel tov!

      • Thank you so much! My story is proof that if you just keep at it, inch by inch, the dream can come true … without tons of Twittering and compromising along the way.

    • That is a fantastic achievement – congratulations Kim Fay!!

      That’s what I want: money. Enough of it to write, write and write some more. Then travel. Then buy stuff. Then write some more.

  19. “You’re not a star until they can spell your name in Karachi.”

    Humphrey Bogart

  20. I agree with your thoughts here and I certainly love your blog! I’ve bookmarked it so that I can come back & read more in the future. Your post is very interesting. I’ve read your blog for few days now and I trully enjoy your blog. Thank you for your great work!

  21. I drank boat-loads of grape soda at Breadloaf when I was 10. It was awesome.

  22. My husband recently called me a macher. It would be nice to make him an honest man.

  23. Today, everybody is famous to fifteen people.

    I read that somewhere and I liked the sound of it, especially after I locked in that 15th person. Those first 14 people didn’t make me feel good enough aboout myself. 15, though: Whole other story.

    I think I’m going to go ask a stranger DON’T YOU KNOW WHO I AM??? just because I can.

    • And when that gets tiresome, please try “perhaps I need to tell you who I am” in a cool, yet annoyed tone.

  24. Well, I’m no longer a young man, but I’m afraid I remain a naiive one. I’m continually stunned at what it requires to get ahead in this world (especially the world of writing/publishing), at the level of arrogance and/or self-absorption, and at the extent of manipulation or pandering needed.
    Or, put it this way. Am I willing to act like a jerk to get published? Yes, I think I am. But, am I willing to overhear someone say to another, “…can you believe what a complete asshole that guy is?’ No, I’m not. I’d slink right back, full of contrition (and maybe wielding a bouquet of chrysanthemums).
    I’ve written a good book, but I’m afraid that does not take one very far. Not only have I not won the larger war, but I don’t even know how to fight it.

    • But if I weren’t arrogant and self-absorbed, I’d have personality at all.

      Thank god for publishing — if not for the book biz, I’d have to go around being nice to people, and I’d rather kill myself.

  25. i’d like to be read. i doubt fame will ever enter into it.

  26. I just want someone else to do the goddamn laundry for once.

    • Let’s not get too carried away….

      On second thought, let’s do.

      How about some of you famous people come and do our laundry?

      Reese! Out of the car! Time to get busy!

      That’s right, sweetie. These darks and lights ain’t gonna separate themselves.

      And for God’s sake, please stop your blubbering on our silks!

  27. I, actually, do know successful writers and screenwriters who are pretty great people. The assholes seem to fry themselves in the long run. I think that the success Betty is referring to is an illusion. If I’m not happy with myself, I don’t want it.

  28. I’d be curious to hear your thoughts on all of these fame questions.

  29. I just want the “fortune” bit…Fame, meh. Having to run round attracting attention (my second book is out tomorrow and all I want to do is SLEEP) is exhausting and weird and, sadly, necessary. Then people think you’re doing it because you LOVE attention personally when — like many of us — I want attention for my work or ideas, but for me, apart from the work?

    Fuck, no.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: