The Problem with the Spotlight

Some people find the writing life faintly glamorous, which can spark well-meaning curiosity.

But for me, the attention can be crippling.

Steve Dubner, co-author of Freakonomics—which spawned a sequel, movie, radio show, and a full calendar of speaking engagements—also sees a downside. According to an interview with Dubner in

“‘It’s not like I’m even remotely famous compared to ‘real’ fame, [but] I get recognized in public pretty regularly, which has become a little uncomfortably weird. The price of fame is interesting to me. Most everybody seems to think being famous would be cool. It would be cool to have the things fame can bring – power, wealth, access. But the actual being-famous part is a nightmare. Right now I have this teeny sliver of recognizability. It will fade soon, and that’s good.’”

I’m with Dubner. Let me disappear into the wallpaper. It’s where I do my best work.

When I’m the focus of attention, I have to give instead of absorb and observe.  And if I can’t absorb and observe, I won’t have anything to say when it comes time to write.

Comments welcome and edited to include first names only, and website, if provided; never your email. Photo by Pak Han Foto and cited by Lucas Krech.


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  1. I can’t imagine. Think it would be unpleasant to be un-anonymous.

  2. I’m with you. Good to hear from you.

  3. Oh I feel the same way … the funny thing is I have no problem speaking to a group, even a large group – but that’s not about ‘me’ that’s about the topic. The worst experience I ever had to endure was getting up on a stage in front of 4,000 people to be recognized for an award at work – this dufus even sang to me and handed me roses. It was truly painful, all I wanted to do was disappear!

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