There are countless writers I admire, and some with whom I’d love to trade places even for a day. Some of them just seem to have darn exciting lives. Some of them are so #@$&ing talented that maybe inhabiting their brain for a day or so would rub off on me. Some are just cute and young and I’d like to troll a few nightclubs in their skin and see what kind of trouble I could get into.
Then there are the writers I’m glad I’m not. It’s no reflection on their talent, or on how much I enjoy their books. In fact some of the writers in this list are my favorites. One is also already dead, but his lack of a heartbeat is not the reason I don’t want to be him. Even if he was still alive, I’d hesitate to trade places and I’ll tell you why. So, let’s start with an easy one.
- Salman Rushdie, the poor man. Even though the fatwa against him is basically a thing of the past, you’ve got to imagine he’s pretty nervous when he goes out to get his morning paper. But this is not the only reason I would not want to be him. The man has a prodigious talent, but how can he ever be known for anything other than being the guy who pissed off the Ayatollah?
- James Frey. While pissing off Oprah is not quite in the same league as pissing off the Ayatollah, I’d still not like to be in his shoes. Maybe that’s why he published I Am Number Four under a pseudonym. Or maybe he read his manuscript and decided not to put his name to that “meh”. Sorry James, not for me.
- Harper Lee. Seriously, how do you top To Kill a Mockingbird? Poor woman, even she doesn’t know. She’s never even tried.
- On a similar but more frightening note, J K Rowling. What next JK? What next? It’s nightmarish. No amount of money would put me in her shoes.
- William Shakespeare, the humble son of a glove maker who rose to genius and still after 400 years people don’t believe he wrote his own plays. I wonder if it was like this when he was alive. Kind of: “You wrote this? YOU wrote this? Get out, really? YOU wrote Hamlet? You did not!” That has to hurt.
4 thoughts on “5 Writers I’m Glad Not to Be”
Harper Lee had Truman Capote as editor on “To Kill a Mockingbird” … and the prose is so similar it’s one of those “things that make you go mmmm!” Maybe she didn’t even try to write the first one.
Oh, btw, are you aware that Truman Capote is the character in the book called Dill?
Oh Denise, leave it to you to have a conspiracy theory.
And if you think I’m wrong, just look at everything that goes before the sentence “Maycomb was an old town, but it was a tired old town when I first knew it.” … and you’ll see that this is an entire syntactic change from everything earlier. I think that Capote realised at that point that his old friend Harper was a sincerely crap writer and everything thereafter is his own work.
Hey, look! I’m procrastinating working on my NaNo by reading your blog. lol.
I agree with your list. Although, perhaps a new generation of readers will pick up some of Rushdie’s work without connecting him to the Ayatollah. I was in college at the time, so I can’t think of him without thinking about Satanic Verses.
@Denise – you know what you could do? Take a section out of To Kill a Mockingbird and plug it into the “I write like” website and see if it comes up Truman Capote. lol.