Lake Atitlan, Panajachel, Guatemala

“Reading and writing are acts of empathy and faith. Guard that trust carefully — in this rapidly changing business, it’s the only sure thing.” ~Erin Keane
"Never give up. And most importantly, be true to yourself. Write from your heart, in your own voice, and about what you believe in." ~ Louise Brown

"Write something to suit yourself and many people will like it; write something to suit everybody and scarcely anyone will care for it."
~Jesse Stuart

"A writer's job is to take one thing and make it stand for twenty." ~ Virginia Woolf

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Famously Reclusive Authors

Suzane Smith, blogger on a college site, sent me a link to a post in case I was interested enough to mention it on my blog. The post is Famously Reclusive Authors and Artists. (I checked but I'm not on there-- guess I'm not reclusive enough, or famous enough.)

In this time of author forced-promotion-to-sell-their-books, it's fascinating to read about J.D. Salinger, Harper Lee, Cormac McCarthy and others who stay hidden, refuse to do interviews, speeches, or signings. And of course there's Emily Dickinson, but she wasn't famous for her poetry until after her death. These others all had acclaim in their lifetime, and turned their backs on it.

Can you imagine a young up-and-coming, newly contracted author telling the publisher, "Oh, sorry. I don't do appearances. If Oprah calls, tell her to get someone else."

Writers tend to be reclusive by nature, and promoting ourselves can push us way beyond our comfort zones. But in today's writing world, getting out there is part of the job whether we like it or not. At least until we're famous enough to hide away on our farm in Connecticut.

Where would you hide away if you could? Or would you even want to? Honestly? Yes, I would. I would be Emily Dickinson, if I could get away with it. But I can't. So instead I'm Xena.


  1. In the desert of St George. I know it is not very exotic, but baking in heat is my favorite. Sometimes I just sit in the car and soak up a sunbeam. Southern California isn't quite warm enough for me.

  2. I would definitely be a reclusive writer if I ever got published.
    I would live in a south of France farmhouse just leaving the house to deposit fat cheques in the bank and maybe to have cocktails with Johnny Depp and Tim Burton.

  3. PS Have left you award check my blog out.

  4. Hi

    Awww I say this again and again - I'm loving, loving your Xena avatar!!! I've got my Xena button taped to my work monitor to keep my fighting spirits up!

    As for reclusiveness - If ever any of my novels/stories ever become famous, I'd love to hide within my anonymity but I know I am too vain and would therefore be checking stuff out about how people are receiving my stories - anonymously of course!

    Thanks for the fab link btw!

    Take care

  5. Yes I absolutely would hide away. I'd have my tall skinny house in London's Highgate, made of sturdy old brick and covered in ivy. And inside I'd dance around in ballgowns in-between stories.

    But in reality... I doubt a new author could hide away. As you say, promotion is part of the job, and I'd be prepared to do whatever is necessary. So yes, I would also be Xena! In a ballgown. :)

  6. Plain Jane, wish I were there. Even SoCal would be hot enough for me. I am not liking all the snow on the ground right now :(

    Brigid, LOL! And I would be your neighbor. We'd eat long leisurely lunches together.

    Kitty, sometimes you just gotta be a warrior princess!

    Jayne, Highgate at last! Sounds divine, especially the ballgowns.

  7. Xena, I'm glad you're not reclusive any longer. What do exclusive writers do in the age of blogging?

    I love that Thomas Pynchon doesn't want to be seen, but has appeared with a bag on his head on The Simpsons around three times. Looks like he found a way to self-promote!

    I wouldn't have a problem promoting, since I'm a teacher. I think.

  8. I already know I'm reclusive, which is why I will do all I can online for my book.

  9. I would definitely hide away if I could, but hmm, where would I go? Personally, I'd love to be anywhere hot but my man prefers the colder climates. I'm obviously going to have to dream big and have a reclusive hide-out in two different places.

  10. Why do you think I live in Mexico? And the answer is yes. I still don't know what I'm going to do about promoting. I may take advantage of all online promoting options but I doubt anyone will be able to meet me in person.


  11. I would be reclusive also. I would live in a house with the dunes and the sea as my back garden. Take long walks deeply breathing in the salt and seaweed scented air. Like Brigid, I would make the occasional exception and have tea with Neil Jordan or Maeve Binchy or Colm Toibin. Oh the dreams we weave!!

  12. As writers, dreams are our meat and drink. Which is why I added that quote under my giraffe today. Aim high and be a warrior!

  13. Hm. I would only be a recluse if there was a good hairdresser, cupcakes, loads of crisps and, of course, coffee and wine. So... I guess I wouldn't be reclusive! I'd just stay in my little flat and be me!

  14. I hide in my villa in the vineyards of a Cypriot village in the hills. I wear whatever I lay my hands on, and I crawl out from under my rock for wine, chocolate and a hairdresser appointment. I allow the world in now and then. I like my life. :)
    Oprah calling? I am there! I am not that much of a recluse, damn I would even wear a dress! LOL

  15. Talli, oh that little flat of yours sounds so deliciously well-stocked!

    Glynis, I think I'll come hide with you in your villa. That's the kind of spot that most of us can only dream of vacationing and you live there!

  16. I would hide in plain sight. Since no one would know my name, I'd just pay someone else to do Oprah for me. But since I doubt I'd ever have to worry about that, I'd just do the book signings in small stores by myself. :)

  17. I have to say, Salinger's choice in the mountains of NH is near-perfect. He was close enough to Dartmouth to venture over to the campus for coffee in the wee hours of the morning to sit by himself and read (which I understand he did do on occasion). If not in the mountains, then definitely near a beach -- in the Northeast.

  18. Sarahjayne, My sister keeps telling me she gets to go with me when I'm on Oprah. HAHAHAHAHA! But what a good idea. We look enough alike, I can just send her instead. No one will know the difference.

    Colette, You are one of the most knowledgable people i know in blog world. It's so cool that you're writing nonfiction. You will be so good at it. I'll be first in line to buy your book!

  19. I wouldn't mind being "out there" some, but in my time of reclusiveness maybe Southwestern Virgina or Grand Island, Nebraska.


  20. LOVE YOUR BLOG!!! SUPER CUTE! Found your blog over at All Write with Coffee.

    I'd like to hide out at a beach house, where cocktails are served at all hours with no questions asked (that exists right?)

  21. Thanks, Jen, I'm glad you left a comment :) That beach house sounds good-- next to the Pacific Ocean would be my preference.

  22. I think I'd hide if I could get away with it. I'm torn between a beach house in Northern California and a mountain hideaway in Colorado (writing in front of the fire in the middle of a snowstorm - I hate snow, but that sounds great even to me.)

  23. Sometimes I want to hide away, but that's because I feel like I never have enough time to do the things I want/need to do. Of course, we all feel that way sometimes, right?