When I first looked at the question, my brain immediately gave me all these wildly successful people. Like, wildly wildly successful people. J.K. Rowling! Stephanie Meyer! And then it went into all the various things I would do, if I had their money. I would buy a beautiful villa in Ponsonby! I’d pay for a cleaner to come every week and do all my housework for me! I’d have enough leftover money that I could buy Greenpeace a whole new ship! And also I could set up some kind of literacy program for disadvantaged kids! Yes! However, I would not be one of those obnoxious rich people who goes on and on to the sales assistant with the faded top and the scuffed shoes about how much money I have, how I’m taking my children on holiday to both Athens and Venice and then skiing, because yeah. I know what it is to be that sales assistant.
And then, once I was over that whole train of thought, with all the money and the lack of financial worries and did I mention the money, once I was over that, I thought to myself, do I really want to be Stephanie Meyer or J. K. Rowling? And the answer was a resounding HELL NO.
Because I don’t want to be surrounded in hype. I like having time to myself, and doing normal daydreamy Leila things, like walking down the road and admiring the trees. If you put me on a red carpet, I would have no idea what to do. I’m not particularly photogenic. You’d end up with lots of photos of me smiling awkwardly, like a newly hatched alien with strange teeth.
But more than anything, I don’t want to be Rowling or Meyer because I don’t want to write just one astronomically successful book or series, a Harry Potter or a Twilight or a Da Vinci Code to weigh me down for the rest of my career. I love the Harry Potter books dearly, but I can’t even begin to imagine the pressure a writer like J. K. Rowling is under. How on earth do you follow up the success of something like Harry Potter? I don’t want to write this one thing that takes off so hugely that it shadows all the rest of my writing forever. I don’t want wild success. I want stable success. I want something constant and lifelong. So if I could have anyone’s career, whose would I go for?
Ursula Le Guin’s.
She’s prolific; she’s written a wide, wide range of stuff; her writing is consistently wonderful with everything she does. And she’s been going at it far longer than I’ve been alive. She’s highly regarded by writers and critics from all ends of the spectrum. She has written a few books which are particular standouts, but they don’t overwhelm everything else. You don’t go buy an Ursula Le Guin book saying, dammit, this had better be like Earthsea or else. At least, I don’t. I buy an Ursula Le Guin book saying, I know with sureness that this will be a highly crafted work of great beauty. And that’s what sells her books. She’s a successful writer, but it’s a quiet, constant sort of success. It’s not a world consuming explosion; it’s something slow burning but unfailing. It’s not one particular book, one particular series. It’s her writing itself. And that is exactly the sort of writer I would like to be one day, if I could choose.
So, how about you? For more answers, check out YA highway!