The Trap of Fame

One of the things that’s really bugging me about the idea of writing is the idea of being famous for writing. Telling stories is great, being famous is not. There’s a short story by Louis L’Amour called ‘The Trap of Gold.’ I think about a lot as I contemplate writing and whatever might follow.

The Trap of FameHave you read the short story? Give it a whirl, it still holds up. In it, a prospector locates a rich vein of gold in rough country, miles from anywhere. The vein sits at the base of a 3oo-foot-tall granite rock that might collapse on him at any moment. What does he risk if he approaches it? What does he risk by walking away? The story builds to an unbelievable amount of tension before its resolution. Even now, fifty or sixty years later, you can understand why L’Amour was such a successful writer.

Enter Jackson Allen.

I have a lot of thoughts and opinions about fame and they come from hard and bitter experience. In fact, they remind me of the massive rock this prospector must navigate to secure his fortune. The given wisdom is that:

  • I cannot write unless I can sell books.
  • I cannot sell books unless I am famous
  • I cannot pursue notoriety without jeopardizing whatever gains I’ve made in rebuilding my life

This is a three-way tug-of-war. I want to save my life without selling my soul. I don’t have an answer for any of this yet. Perhaps we’ll find them together.

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