If I Were a Rich Man
By Jeff Salter
I chose the title of the song from Fiddler on the Roof, because I sometimes find myself humming it. Our actual topic this week deals with how my life (or typical days) might change if [when] I suddenly become a famous best-selling author with huge writing royalties.
Interestingly, I’ve thought of this fairly often. Let me explain. By itself, writing can be a rather solitary endeavor and writers can find themselves with relatively little feedback. So we have a lot of time to think. You know, “Should Character 123 do this?” And “Wonder how that scene would be in the villain’s POV?” And “What if Title ABC hits the bestseller list?”
Yeah, I suspect we all wonder how it feels to be Stephen King or Danielle Steele or JKK Rowling. Do I anticipate reaching those particular heights? No. But I do imagine one or more of my stories finally breaking through to critical acclaim and commercial success. I think we authors have to imagine some kind of success — how else can we keep banging on these keyboards and staring at these screens?
So how would I change? What would be different about my daily life?
The answer (as truthfully as I can imagine it) is: it wouldn’t change much. Oh, I’d probably upgrade our two 10-year old vehicles. And, of course, I’d pay off the mortgage and credit cards.
For a look at what I’d do with a million bucks (but no particular FAME), check out my blog from September last year:
But I don’t believe I’d go anywhere very different or change my schedule much. I like to think I’d behave much like the noted author Walker Percy, whom I knew in my hometown of Covington LA. He’d won national awards, international critical acclaim, and all his eight novels sold wonderfully (most into many printings). Yet he did his own thing in our little town and the few local people who knew he was famous mostly left him alone. He was subject of numerous national interviews and even had entire books written ABOUT him and his writing, but I honestly don’t think it ever went to his head. So Walker Percy is my model — I would not want any fame to go to my head.
I’ve long dreamed of having the resources and the clout to sponsor writing contests and anthology publications — with a special emphasis on high school kids who have the itch to write. I’d also like to be a “visiting instructor” at a small college nearby, conducting occasional creative writing seminars for college kids.
What would the changes be?
With fame and funding, I imagine I’d have access to more resources, like fact-checkers, or assistance with things like filing and organization. I could probably afford faster internet and upgrade my hardware and software. Maybe I’d soundproof my study – ha – and add a window A/C unit!
Overall, when/if my writing ever achieves “fame” and fortune, I believe the primary difference would be that I would have slightly more confidence in my authorship status. I think I’d be in a stronger position from which I could lend assistance and/or encouragement to other authors who were still struggling in the muddy literary trenches.
What about YOU? Would fame and fortune change your life… your outlook?