Writers travel the Earth in relative obscurity. Even the most famous writers can sit in a restaurant, go to a movie, or pick up their dry cleaning without dodging paparazzi or autograph-seekers. This is true even at the highest levels. I mean, E.L. James is as blazing hot as novelists ever get, but if she were standing in line next to you at the deli, would you have any idea who she was? In contrast, the guy who plays the best friend of the lead character in a sitcom on the CW probably gets people coming up to him all the time saying, “Hey, aren’t you the guy who plays the best friend on that sitcom?”
One doesn’t go into the writing business seeking public recognition. For most of us, we’d stand a better chance of being “spotted” if we were doctors, Board of Education members, or baristas at Starbucks. My guess is that this is a good thing. People who pursue professions in search of fame rather than out of a real sense of passion tend to be fairly poor at the profession. This does not mean, however, that writers aren’t tickled when a bit of public recognition comes their way.
I had a fleeting experience with this recently. Under my real name, I write nonfiction books (I use the Michael Baron pseudonym to separate my fiction from my nonfiction because they’re such different animals). I was traveling on business a few months ago and, since I was on a tight deadline, took out my laptop to work as soon as I was allowed to do so on the flight. The woman sitting next to me seemed equally busy, so we didn’t say a word to each other the entire time. As the flight landed, though, she suddenly became talkative, telling me about what she’d been working on, which was a white paper for a new project in her profession. As it turned out, I’d collaborated about a year earlier on a book on a similar subject, and I mentioned this to her. When I said this, her eyes widened. She reached into her carryon bag, pulled out a hardcover, and said, “You mean this one?” She was at that very moment halfway through my book. This was amusing enough to me, but when she went on to say that she thought what I’d written was “inspired” and that it had enlightened her in a number of ways, I felt a ridiculous level of pride. Then she asked me to autograph the book, and for just a moment, I was the guy who plays the best friend on that sitcom.
Obviously, I don’t put a big premium on getting noticed. After all, I’m writing the most important books of my career under a made-up name (and these are definitely the most important books of my career, despite what I’ve been able to accomplish with nonfiction; in my novels I’m writing about things that matter much, much more to me). Still, I came away from this little encounter having learned one clear lesson: getting noticed every now and then is pretty cool.
Michael Baron is The Story Plant’s Author of the Month. This means we are offering sensational deals on all of his books. You can learn more at our website.