Etc

Would You Rather

November 23, 2010

I know, I know, the “Would You Rather”s tend to belong squarely in Bart’s camp and generally I get mega-stressed out when he asks me “Would You Rather” questions. I think he probably views this as one of my greatest shortcomings as a wife. Moving on. . .

Kayla (she has a new blog. . .check it out) and I were talking about books the other day and I mentioned some books that we were written under a pen name and she commented that if she were ever to write a book, it’d be under a fake name, since she’d be too embarrassed to write under her real name.

Both of us, almost simultaneously, said “Stephenie Meyer!”

Which leads me to wonder – if I could choose to be one kind of author, would I rather be the kind that is generally labeled as a lousy writer, but makes a ridiculous amount of money on both books and subsequent movie deals (Stephenie Meyer, Nicholas Sparks, etc) or someone considered to be a brilliant writer, but whose books never really take off in the public marketplace and didn’t make much money?

On the one hand. . . I certainly like money.

On the other hand, I do not care to be the poster child of the downfall of American literature either.

What would you choose?

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30 Comments

  • Reply Elizabeth November 23, 2010 at 9:14 pm

    Hrrrrm.
    I find that question shockingly difficult to answer. But I choose good writer over rich writer, because I find Stephenie Meyer to be…let's just say that's not the legacy I'd choose.

  • Reply Jess November 23, 2010 at 9:17 pm

    Oof. I would like to think that I'd go for the critical acclaim. And honestly, I probably would, because you know, whether or not your book is popular worldwide, people who know you will read it, and I would like to be able to show my face at dinner parties and whatnot, you know?

    On the other hand… SO MUCH MONEY. Especially right now, on one income.. .it's tempting!

  • Reply Tina's Blog November 23, 2010 at 9:36 pm

    I'd have to go with the good writer, not rich writer scenario.

  • Reply Lady Susan November 23, 2010 at 9:46 pm

    Can I go for the middle ground? I would like to the kind of writer who tells a good story in a pretty competent way. I want to be the type of writer who is enjoyable to read. I don't aim for brilliance (and to be honest, really brilliant novels are not my favorite.) Nor do I aim for millions–but if it happens, I won't say nay.

  • Reply lacie tidwell November 23, 2010 at 9:48 pm

    tough one- as an (ahem) aspiring writer myself I would love to think that I would pick the quality writer scenario. But, writing a novel, is well difficult, and the audience these days, well lets just say I read through Twilight in about two hours…now people are going to judge you regarldess, so hmmm…be a sell out to provide my posterity years of comfort? can I have my cake and eat it too?

  • Reply Heather November 23, 2010 at 9:49 pm

    wow. maybe write something that would get SO many people to start reading again. And slip in something substantive without them realizing it. Like spinach in your smoothie.

  • Reply Emily November 23, 2010 at 10:02 pm

    I guess I'd want to have the critical acclaim. BUT to write a series that is beloved all over the world?? Maybe that would be better than critical acclaim. Because she doesn't just have money, she's written a series of books the lots of people have fallen completely in love with. And no matter what, I think I'd feel pretty good about that.

  • Reply Kayla November 23, 2010 at 10:13 pm

    I am still so torn on this one. I think I choose to write money-making trash under a pen name so no one associates my gold mind garbage with ME and just knows there's this girl out there that writes these horrible yet addictive novels.

  • Reply Merry November 23, 2010 at 10:24 pm

    I have no shame! If I knew that my writing would be a hit and make me money, even if it wasn't that great, I'd definitely go ahead and publish!

  • Reply Shelah November 23, 2010 at 10:54 pm

    definitely the starving artist 🙂

  • Reply LatteLove November 23, 2010 at 11:01 pm

    definitely good an unappreciated, if I had to pick.

    But certainly I'd rather be someone awesome and appreciated, like Richard Russo.

  • Reply Mary November 23, 2010 at 11:20 pm

    Right now, when money is a little tight, I would have to say I'd rather be the wealthy writer of hits. The critics may not appreciate the work, but millions of "regular" people would. I could laugh my way right to the bank.
    However, if you would have asked me this question at most any other time of my life, I would probably have chosen the critical acclaim over money. To know that your name and works of literature would be handed down and appreciated through the centuries would be without price.

  • Reply preethi November 24, 2010 at 12:18 am

    Can I be like J.K. Rowling and write terrific books (of which I can be proud) that have clever plots and amazing character development, and are simultaneously beloved around the world/encouraged the masses to read again? Oh, and that also make me lots of money (albeit through lesser-quality movies)?

    No?

    Fine, starving artist.

  • Reply craftyashley November 24, 2010 at 12:27 am

    Money all the way. I can handle the criticism. What I need is a four bedroom house!

  • Reply Laurie@The Baking Bookworm November 24, 2010 at 1:04 am

    I'm with Lady Susan. I'd prefer middle of the road. A good, competent writer who has the ability to write a good, solid book but not necessarily critically acclaimed. Someone who can make enough money for a nice lifestyle but isn't necessarily sitting on Oprah's couch selling her book. I'm thinking of Susanna Kearsley, Kelley Armstrong, Lawrence Hill ….

  • Reply Jenny November 24, 2010 at 1:39 am

    if you had used JK Rowling as the example of money, I would have totally camped on her side. But since you picked S Meyer, I'll have to pitch my tent on the good writer side.

  • Reply Abby November 24, 2010 at 3:10 am

    Dude, I'd go for the MONEY!

    Because:

    Say what you will about Stephenie Meyer, but she got an awful lot of people to read books. And I know at least one aspiring writer who was inspired by his love for her books, so she's getting people to write, too.

    And money or not, I guess that's what I'd like to be – the author who inspires thousands of kids and teens (oh, and I guess adults, too) to want to pick up a book and have fun reading.

    And if the critics think my writing is crap, I'm okay with that!

  • Reply Operation Pink Herring November 24, 2010 at 3:36 am

    If I wrote a book and one person loved it as much as I loved Twilight, that'd be more than enough for me. The bajiliions of dollars would be OK, too, though.

  • Reply Elsha November 24, 2010 at 3:50 am

    I want to say I'd go for being the brilliant writer but the thought of that money is certainly tempting…

  • Reply Ben and Summer November 24, 2010 at 4:45 am

    I guess I'm not much of a writing critic, but I think Stephanie Meyer is a great writer. I love her style and her imagination is impressive. Speaking more of The Host than the Twilight series, although I got as engrossed in them as everyone else.

    In answer to your question, I'd want to write something I'm proud of, and I think is entertaining (since I, myself like to read for entertainment), and it would be fabulous to make a lot of money doing something I was so passionate about, and I would just let the critics think what they wanted:)

  • Reply Bart November 24, 2010 at 5:08 am

    Easy peazy. I'd entertain and make millions. Then, if I really aspired to be a brilliant writer, I'd have all the time in the world to practice.

  • Reply Karina November 24, 2010 at 2:56 pm

    I'm shocked that people think Stephanie Meyer is good because people are reading her books, like people reading is an ultimate goal. When it's trash, it's not a good thing to be reading.

    I'd choose to be an amazing writer.

  • Reply lifeofadoctorswife November 24, 2010 at 3:45 pm

    If I could write books that were both crazy best-sellers and enjoyable to write, I'd choose the money. And then once I got mega rich, I'd write the good stuff.

    Hence the need for a pen name for the cruddy stuff…

  • Reply heidikins November 24, 2010 at 5:58 pm

    I'd rather be a good writer that a few people loved than deface the name of literature. I predict in 200 years (if the world hasn't blown itself up by then) people will mock/have no recollectoin of Ms. Meyer, and I'd rather be remembered and have a lasting affect on readers.

    Besides, if you are published at all there is some money that comes with it, right?

    xox

  • Reply Amy Sorensen November 24, 2010 at 8:02 pm

    I really do think I'd go for writing GOOD books.

    But.

    Is it too much to ask? That the GOOD writers get handomely wealthy, too? It doesn't have to be obscenely, bloody wealthy. Just enough to enjoy your life by way of your writing.

    Where can I choose that???

  • Reply Amy Sorensen November 24, 2010 at 8:04 pm

    ps. I think that if you asked her, Stephenie Meyer would probably say that she stayed true to her artistic vision. The fact that she managed to make gajillions of bucks with her vision? Well, it says as much about society as it does about her. While I have severe anti-Twilight sentiments, I still have to hand it to her for finding financial success doing something she loves.

    I just don't share the same literary vision as she does.

  • Reply jillian November 24, 2010 at 11:07 pm

    Hmmm….can't I be both? I'd love to be the next J.K. Rowling but seeing as to how that won't happen, I think I'd rather be known for being a wonderful writer than a sell out or someone that just writes pure crap.

  • Reply Rydia Lavenia November 27, 2010 at 10:37 pm

    Hi Janssen! I am one of your friends on goodreads and I found your review of a Sarah Dessen novel (I am totally in love with her now!) and then realized you had a blog!! How fun! Anyway, I have only looked around a bit but I did add you and will follow up!

    Looks delightful! Cute pictures and I loved your list. I saw myself in quite a bit of that list!

    Take Care!

    PS. Actually it's funny I am replying under this post you have… I use a pen name for everything!! hahaha! aka This one! The real name is Courtney 😀

  • Reply Mad Hadder November 28, 2010 at 4:59 am

    You forgot Richard Evans. I don't think I'd ever want my name associated with mediocre anything, so I'm going to choose to join the list of those who write well, have high principles, and can capture an audience too. The story of Mephistopholese (sp?) has always quivered me. Oh, and I don't ever want people in my life to ever be ashamed of me either. I keep wondering what the New York Regional Singles Halloween Dance's grandmother would say. How would she ever hold up her head in the beauty parlor ever again??? And Stephanie–oh my. Please tell me she doesn't wear BYU T-shirts to her booksignings…

  • Reply mainhoonemily November 29, 2010 at 9:11 pm

    I don't know about writing under my real name…more because I dislike my last name than because I wouldn't want to be associated with my writing. But I'd rather be loved by millions than only appreciated by a few. Say what you will about Stephenie Meyer (and personally, I ahve nothing but praise for her and her books), knowing she's created something so many people go absolutely crazy for has to be a good feeling!

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