writing

Posthumous Fame

What is it about dying that automatically confers fame on artists? John Kennedy Toole. Michelle McNamara. Edgar Allen Poe. Kafka. Thoreau. Vincent Van Gogh only sold one painting in his lifetime.

Why are we waiting?

Does death bring some kind of legitimacy?

Would Kurt Cobain and Jimi Hendrix be as revered if they’d lived? Or would they have lived long enough for the sheen to fall off? Would Kurt be just the grunge equivalent of Lindsay Lohan, pure tabloid fodder? Would Hendrix have gone the way of Eddie Van Halen?

I don’t want to be dead before anyone decides I was worth the few bucks for one of my books. I want to be recognized in my time. Maybe later, people can dissect every little thing about whatever stories I write, but for now, I’d prefer they just read them (and ideally, pay for them).

I’m not interested in being James Patterson, seeing formulaic books by the truckload, but neither do I want to be Jeffrey Eugenides either, writing three books in my life that do “okay”, regardless of how critically well accepted they were.

I want to live comfortably while being able to write what I want, stuff with depth and meaning and heartache and joy and depression and anger. I want to write the kind of novel that isn’t just a once and done. I want to write stuff that can suck you in from the beginning, but offers more to explore on second, third, fourth, fifth readings.

And I want people to do that while I’m still alive.

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