Let me ask you a purely academic question: Hello?
— Dean Blehert

Sunday, February 19, 2006

How Fame Happens

What blocks the road to fame also eases the way: You go along, bouncing in your own estimation from "I am someone" to "I am no one," occasionally coming to rest halfway between at "Maybe...who knows? Does it matter?"

You know you are good at what you do, but knowing doesn't make it real -- that takes agreement, and you aren't even sure you agree with yourself. But your being unknown is what wins the day, when, finally, someone whose opinion counts happens to pass over your work and gets yanked back to it and says, "Hey! Who is this? It's terrific!"

To this eminence, you're no one -- the condition you've long cursed -- and that's your gateway to fame: To you you're no one...someone... no one.... To this someone you're simply no one, then someone, suddenly someone, pure someone. You don't arrive with all that baggage, the decades of self-doubt (this eminent fellow wasn't there when you were vascillating through the years), the skin of "small-time", "local", etc., acquired despite (or by) your efforts to resist it.

You are that "bolt from the blue." Your decades of effort got you no recognition worth mention, so you come from nowhere. You aren't even a recognizably "pretty good" or "reliable" poet. The road is wide open. Now you need only remember that fame is mere opinion. Your work is to touch individuals and make them more alive. Fame is only a way to reach individuals, only a way. Aren't you glad fame hid from you until you were able to use it without becoming infatuated with it...well, almost.

1 comment:

Pam said...

Nice essay, and so true in the second person. Who did you say you were?