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On Defending Myself Against Fame

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"A famous writer who wants to continue writing has to be constantly defending himself against fame." -- Gabriel Garcia Marquez


In honor of his upcoming birthday, I'd like to dedicate this essay to Nobel-prize winning author Gabriel Garcia Marquez, writer of Love in the Time of Cholera and One Hundred Years of Solitude, two classic novels that millions of high school and college students around the world never read but wrote papers on.

Being that it will soon be his birthday after all and he has a few accomplishments from which I can learn, I've decided to take some time to really consider his advice. After all, I am a writer with more than one publication that tens of people have seen and maybe even enjoyed, so perhaps it is important to construct a defense strategy against the onslaught of fame that is sure to be riding a tsunami-sized wave this way. I must brace myself.

Before I'm prepared to combat the beast of my celebrity, I'll need to assess the size of the thing, what kind of teeth it bares, the nature of its prowess. Thus begins my quest.

The first stop on my odyssey is the sacred realm of Amazon, a land that monitors and cradles knowledge dear to all writers: the success of books. I don't actually have any published books, so I know this stop will be quick, although worthwhile.

I do, however, have an essay in an anthology (which will remain nameless), so I journey to this book's listing to expose myself to what I am sure will be pages and pages of reviews confessing how my essay is a life-changing read. Here will be where I will discover my fans, and after gauging their magnitude, I can begin to buy the supplies for, and then build, my figurative fame fortress.

When I type in the exact title of the anthology and click enter, a funny thing happens. It isn't the first book in the results. Or the second. It is the third. No bother, I venture on.

Yes, just as I expected. Customer reviews. What? Only four? Well it certainly is not about the quantity of fans, but the quality, the enthusiasm they have for me in their hearts. These four reviews must be soliloquies in my honor, beautiful language singing my praises. I scan for my name. How strange, nothing. They want to keep me, the object of their adoration, anonymous. Well, I can appreciate that. It is probably for my benefit, so that my life isn't swamped with paparazzi and, to Marquez's point, so that I can continue gifting the world with my contributions. I scan for the name of my essay. Hmmm. I scan for any key words that relate to the subject of my essay. Yes! Bullying!! All four reviews mention bullying. They do love me after all!

But I am hit by a pang of doubt. Could other essays in this anthology have also been about bullying? The anthology was geared to pre-teens, could bullying possibly be a common theme? Almost sure that, no, I am a revolutionary, I turn to my contributor copy, flip to the table of contents, and my stomach drops. There is an entire section with essays about bullying -- and my essay isn't even in that section! I am sorted in a completely different category. These reviewers are not my fans after all.

It is here that my investigative expedition meets its untimely end, and with less than glamorous findings.

On the bright side, since I am not defending myself against fame, I can write uninhibited -- free to create, write, revise, and repeat with NO limitations holding me back! Well, except for maneuvering around the blockades reserved for not famous writers -- like years dedicated to sending queries and submissions so as to try to get noticed... oh, and the little factor of needing another job to support ourselves. Well, at least we aren't famous! That would really be hindering, wouldn't it?