I’ve done some thinking about fame over the years. I came of age in the late 1980’s, in a part of the world and a youth culture where fame mattered a great deal, along with money and external beauty—a toxic triumvirate for a sixteen-year-old with absolutely no work ethic, to say the least. Thankfully, I had parents who had at least one foot on the ground, and I inherited most of the foot, as well as a strong sense that I should get the rest of my feet on the ground, so to speak.

It’s taken a decade or three, but here I am. And as I observed the successes and difficulties of friends, acquaintances, and favorite celebrities over the years, I decided that fame, large or small, has three uses, and three uses only—to enable one to:

  • Feed oneself and family.
  • Enter the cultural debate.
  • Bring other artists up under one’s wing and shine the spotlight on them.
  • That’s all. Status, copious amounts of expensive drugs, parties that bring more bling than connection, and an endless supply of shallow people trying to date you? Fine, if you like that sort of thing and don’t mind being a complete jackass. I’ve got a kid to raise and friends to keep.

    But feeding yourself and your kids because you’re onto a good thing? I like that idea. Of course fame does not always translate into money, but for writers, it sure helps.

    Getting to participate in round table discussions and say what you think in interviews and blog posts—that’s a wonderful facet of being known and heard.

    And helping other artists as you were helped, well, that’s helping Pay the Muse (another blog post of its own). This gift we are given as artists comes with a price, I believe, and we can pay it in madness and addiction, or in joy and further giving…as well as a lot of damned hard work.

    …the occasional moment when someone rushes up to us with a book to sign, out of breath and with a light in their eyes? That’s nice too.