Daniel M. Clark

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In Brief

Popularity in the here and now or in the hereafter?


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Estimated reading time: 2 minutes

Every Wednesday, I take a look at a recent Reddit post. Sometimes weird, sometimes thought-provoking, always interesting.

The question isn't new, but it’s always fun to consider. Do you want fame and fortune while you're alive, or do you want literary immortality? One rarely gets both.

I’ll take the here and now, and I’ll tell you why. Couple of reasons.

First, I’d like to enjoy the fruits of my labor. I have a day job, and it would be a rough life indeed if they only sent my paycheck after I’m dead. I work hard, I create, and I want to enjoy the rewards now, not wait for some uncertain future. Millions of writers—tens of millions, I’d wager—the world over had success in their own here and now without becoming their era’s Shakespeare. It would be no bad thing to count myself among their number.

Second, if I got it into my head that I’m aiming for literary life after death, I’d freeze. Who can handle that kind of pressure? Who would want to handle that kind of pressure? This stuff is hard enough without having to consider what people 400 years in the future might think of it. 

Opting for the here and now frees me from overwhelming expectations, allowing me to focus on the joy of creation—even when it sucks, it’s still a joy. Figure that out. I want to focus on writing without fearing falling short of achieving literary immortality.


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