Tuesday, November 25, 2008
Will You Remember Me?
I spent four and a half years of my life writing my novel, and then another year and a half waiting for my agent to sell it, for my editor to edit it, and for my publisher to produce it and stock the shelves with it. That’s six years I spent obsessing over my novel. And believe me, now that it’s out, the obsession continues. Nothing is more gratifying than knowing that people—real people! not just, like, you know, my mom—are reading my book. I love every angle from which reviewers have considered it, every bookstore that carries it, every single person who takes the time to read it. There’s only one thing about the entire process that I have found relentlessly annoying: a question that has found its way into the collective mouth of The People I Know: “Will you remember me when you’re famous?”
I’ve been asked this question approximately seventy-two thousand times since I sold my book. Each time, it feels like someone is rubbing my nerves with a cheese-grater. Here are some of the answers I’ve been tempted to give:
- I am a far cry from famous. I live in a 200-square-foot apartment. Recently, I paid the last three dollars of my rent with nickels. I’m a cocktail waitress! In a bar! Where drunk men ask my breasts for scotch! Writing a book has not made me famous!
- Does fame cause memory loss? Are famous people forgetful? How many famous people do you know? How many of them seem to forget things more frequently than, say, you?
- There is no answer to this question. We all wonder about the future. Will we be cloned? Will we find contentment? Will the world end in 2012, as many confident experts have predicted? There’s no way I can say for sure whether or not I will forget you. I can guess. I can hypothesize. I can employ the scientific method. But I cannot be certain. I might forget you. I might not.
- Sorry…what’s your name again?Recently, I was working at the bar when a drunk guy approached me. “How’s the book going?” he asked.“Good, good,” I said, smiling. “Thanks.”“Yeah? You traveling all over?” “Yup,” I said. “Lots of traveling.”“Are you going to forget me when you’re famous?”I looked at the man. He was wearing a suit. He was sweating from his forehead a little, the way men sometimes do when they’ve had too many drinks. His tie was loosened and crooked, like a caricature of a drunk guy. He was grinning down at me, swaying slightly on his feet. I had no idea who he was.“You?” I said. I gave him a friendly punch in the arm. “You I could never forget.”
Author of Who By Fire