I think that Carol Lunch Williams and Andy Ellis have absconded with all the money they promised me when I finally caved in to their incessant and embarrassing begging to bring a male perspective to this blog. And I’m afraid they’ve co-opted young fellow bloggeress, Lykra, into their shenanigans. As I have mentioned before, novelists are liars---some more than others---but it’s clear that young, innocent Lykra has been corrupted by these two older women. We can only hope---for Lykra’s sake, and for the sake of all that is good in America---that she will take up, not only with better, more scrupulous associates, but with a career that’s not predicated on prevarication, postulating, and plots. It might be a real stretch for her to find something new, but if anybody can stretch, it’s Lykra. Get out, Lykra, get out while you still can! The three of you who read this blog have probably wondered what it’s like to be an author. Admit it, you’ve fantasized about the fabulous lifestyle of the rich and famous because you know that all authors are rich---some more than others---and live lives of luxury. I can tell you that is absolutely true---for some more than others. Take Utah’s own Shannon Hale, for example. She lives in a palatial estate in Salt Lake County (in fact, it’s most of Salt Lake County), where her servants, husband, and children dote on her. She recently returned from an extended vacation in England where she went to get some British doting, to meet Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth, and to pal around with her buddy Jo Rowling. When Shannon’s not in England or jetsetting around other international hotspots, she’s comfortably ensconced in her palatial estate receiving regular and lavish doses of doting. She writes from a large office nestled in the 5th floor alcove that overlooks her estate. Her office is lined with bookshelves broken up only by awards and photos of Shannon with her rich and famous admirers. You may be surprised to learn that Shannon no longer actually types her novels because her executive manicurist didn’t like what the keyboard was doing to Shannon’s nails, so Shannon now has three private secretaries who take dictation and then type Shannon’s stories up on rich, heavy-bond cotton fiber paper for her to review in the evenings, after she’s had her daily spa treatment. But Shannon’s enviably luxurious and pampered lifestyle can’t hold a candelabra to the way Sara Zarr, Brandon Mull, James Dashner, and Ally Condie live. Take what I’ve said about Shannon’s pamperosity and multiply it times ten and you’ll have some idea of how easy these famous Utah authors have it. No one really knows where any of them live because their estates are cloaked with high-tech camoflagery in order to keep out throngs of fans, burglars, and multi-level marketers. I actually visited one of these estates once (but I’ve been contracted to keep my silence about the particulars), but I was injected with a sleep serum before I boarded this author’s limousine and was re-awakened only after I had been carried into the compound. This author’s abode was a cross between the Taj Mahal and Winsor Castle, only larger and more opulent. Anyway, you get the picture: some authors have it made in ways most of us can only fantasize about. Carol Lunch Williams and Andy Ellis live at this same level of poshness, but I’ll let them describe their decadent and rich lives for themselves. OK, and then there’s me. On Saturday’s when the aristocratic Utah authors are cavorting at spas and golf courses, I’m in my bathroom on my hands and knees with a pail of Lysol water scrubbing the tile floor behind the toilet. Utah’s rich-and-famous authors don’t even drive anymore because their publishers provide round-the-clock chauffeured stretch limos. Our wealthy friends do indeed own cars, whole fleets of expensive European cars, but they would never deign to drive one. I, of course, have to drive myself in a beat-up blue Toyota Echo with no air conditioning and a cracked windshield. But perhaps the greatest difference between Utah’s upper-crust authors and a writer like me is the priceless luxury of time. Sure, they’re kept pretty busy by all the book tours, marathon autographing sessions, and private lunches with publishing magnates, but the cream-of-the-crop Utah authors have an army of executive secretaries and personal assistants who manage all that for them. Household duties are a faint memory for them, though Andy Ellis, I hear, likes to putter in her gardens and Carol Lunch Williams enjoys watching her yard boy cutting the lawn with his shirt off. But, really, because they have arrived at the pinnacle of success, unimaginable wealth, and literally fantastic comforts, Utah’s tycoon authors have all day long to write, with nothing or no one to bother them. They are living, quite literarily, every writer’s dream. I, on the other hand, am like the great majority of writers. I have a real job (one I happen to like very much) to pay the bills and to cover the occasional mad budget-crushing splurges like lunch at Café Rio. My job takes up all of my weekdays---and a good many Saturdays---and several nights each week. It’s a battle to carve out time to write, to create space for cranking out 1,000 crummy words when I’m not in class, preparing for class, sitting in a meeting, or grading papers. And when I go home (to a lovely and loving wife) I must face the burden of the house. No servants wait on me, no gardeners pull my weeds, no handyman fixes the burnt-out sockets and leaky faucets. I’ve got to do all that---work a job, maintain a home and a family, scrub the toilet, do the dishes. The writing has to come in and around and after all that other essential stuff. So, if you’re one of the three readers of this blog, let me tell you that unless you’re fabulously talented, you’re going to be like me, a blue-color writer who looks up to and envies the pantheon of Utah authors who live lives I can only dream about. Like me, you’re going to have to slog through life, writing when the moment presents itself, sitting alone at autographing tables playing Sudoku, and hoping and praying that your editor will remember your name when you finally finish that manuscript. You can fantasize all you want about the Hales, Zarrs, Mulls, Dashners, Condies, Williams, and Ellises of the writing world, but without a boatload of talent, a scrupulous work ethic, and a fairy godmother, you ain’t going to be one of them.
Filed under Chris
7 responses to “Famous Authors”
I always knew Ann Dee was hiding a palace somewhere in Utah. And that Chris liked to scrub toilets. I’m pretty sure that was the central observation of this post.
Great post! This part was especially hilarious: “Carol Lunch Williams
enjoys watching her yard boy cutting the lawn with his shirt off.
What is it with all the authors in Utah? Is there something in the water that makes people such great writers?
I dream of a lifestyle like Carol and Ann Dee. But mostly, I want a yard boy who cuts the lawn with his shirt off.
Prevarication and postulating in the same sentence, quickly followed by pamperosity, and camoflagery started the spice. Thanks
I suspected this of Utah writers all along, especially of Caroly LW. It is probably because God loves you all more. In Canada, I read once that the average income of a professional writer, meaning someone who puts writer down as her main employment on an income tax form, is $16,000 a year. That is $16,900 in US$. If I average out my entire career, from the time I began until now, I figure that would be high for me. I finally got a sizeable advance a year or so ago that might have brought me up to a dollar an hour if you take in 29 years worth of work. Yes, you Utah writers are likely seduced by the big bucks, but in other places of the world, we do not do this for money.
Love the male perspective, Chris!
It’s nice to see Utah writers (especially the ones listed) beginning to be recognized for their talent. If there’s something in the water, then they all get together to drink it.
My accountant would be ecstatic if I put down $16,000 as yearly income on my tax return, which shows how little I actually am earning. I agree with Martine–definitely not doing it for the money. :). I could go chase ambulances if that was my only goal.
Terrific writing, Chris.
Wait a second?! Do you mean that I might not become a bazillionaire when I sell my first book? Maybe I should change my name to Tyra Banks…or Snooki.