Understanding fame and fortune for writers
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If you follow Colleen M. Story online via her websites or on social media, you will know that everything she presents is meticulously crafted. The same is true of this, her third nonfiction book for writers. This book is composed of three parts. The first examines why writers are filled with self-doubt. The second looks at the many ways writing benefits a writer’s life – even if fame and fortune are not on the list. The last section considers what life would be without writing, and asks the reader if they need to seriously consider this option.
Through it all, the author uses dozens of sources to amplify her points. (A reference section at the back of the book provides links to these documents.) Additionally, in her career, she has interviewed more than 300 writers and eighteen of these folks are quoted as well. The reader will also find lots of quizzes to take as they examine their own writing career and arrive at a decision to “Go the Distance” or not.
Early on she gave a fill-in-the-blank prompt: “I know that deep down I’m a writer because.” She asked for three reasons. My answers flowed easily from the heart. Thus, I already trusted myself and already had decided to go the distance as a writer. The sections in the book on these topics went on to validate what I had already figured out for myself.
Where the book was most stellar for me was in helping me get over the fact that fame and fortune are NOT a part of my life as a writer. Colleen helped me see that modern culture plays a part in my need for fame and that the realities of publishing impact my financial fortunes.
Here are a variety of quotes to show what she says:
- “A national survey found that when asked what they valued most in life, more Americans answered ‘money’ than ‘friendship’ or ‘religion.’”
- “A study done on a group of children between ten and twelve years old found that the desire for fame – solely for the sake of being famous – was the most popular future goal.”
- “A poll of 1000 sixteen-year olds from the United Kingdom found that more than half didn’t want a career – they just wanted to be famous.”
Regarding the Realities of Writing:
- “Even the work of great writers doesn’t appeal to everyone.”
- “In the United Kingdom, the Booker Prize-winning titles often have disappointing sales.” Two books were then listed, one that sold 3600 copies and the other that sold 9000, nowhere near the hundreds of thousands I dream of.
- “According to a 2018 Pew Research Center survey, nearly a quarter of American adults hadn’t read a single book in the past year.”
These quotes made my desire for fame and fortune laughable, and gave me a better perspective. I am writing because I have things to say, because I think I have a unique way to say those things, and most important, because I enjoy the time I spend writing.
This final quote from the book says it beautifully. It’s from the movie, Hope Floats: “You find something that you love, and then you twist it, and you torture it, try and find a way to make money at it. You spend a lifetime doing that. At the end you can’t find a trace of what you started out loving.”
As for me, I love to write and I’m going to keep at. No more twisting and torturing for me. I thank Colleen for teaching me this important lesson.