Living for fame, posthumously flash fiction

Living for fame posthumously

Would you sell your soul to the devil to be rich and famous in life, or would you be content with fame after your death?

While most of us might say that it’s not fame or fortune we seek, many spend untold energy and funds on marketing our writing, hopeful of reaching a few extra readers and recouping a few of those hard-earned dollars.

Most of us would say we have no desire to go down in history like some of these whose works were unknown or unrecognised in life, but lauded after death; including:

  • Edgar Allan Poe (Writer)
  • Emily Dickinson (Poet)
  • Franz Kafka (Writer)
  • Galileo Galilei (Scientist)
  • Henry David Thoreau (Philosopher)
  • Herman Melville (writer)
  • John Keats (Poet)
  • Oscar Wilde (writer)
  • Stieg Larsson (writer)
  • Vincent Van Gogh (Artist)

and others you can read about at ScoopWhoop here and here, and also on Toptenz here, where the suggestion is made to never give up because there is no way of knowing what lies ahead.

However, this article by Daniel Grant writing for the Huffington Post and this one on Quora both address the question of an artist’s posthumous fame and agree that, if you weren’t famous in life, you’re unlikely to be famous in death. Perhaps we’d better go for the fame and fortune while we live.

Carrot Ranch flash fiction challenge - unremembered

Why am I thinking about posthumous fame? It’s not that I’m thinking of dying and then being discovered anytime soon. No, it’s as a result of the flash fiction prompt set by Charli Mills at the Carrot Ranch this week.

Charli challenged writers to In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story about someone unremembered. Is it a momentary lapse or a loss in time? Play with the tone — make it funny, moving, or eerie. Go where the prompt leads you!

This is how my story plays out.

Unremembered

A recluse, unremarkable and forgotten in life and unremembered in death, she’d lived in her own world hidden behind overhanging branches and overgrown gardens. Unseen for so long, newcomers didn’t know she existed, thinking it was simply undeveloped land.

One day, developers came and pushed down the trees and cleared the undergrowth. They paused at the sight of the tiny wooden structure their work revealed. Unsure how to proceed, they investigated. Though not art enthusiasts, they knew that what they discovered was something special. When the work was curated and exhibited in galleries worldwide, she was never unremembered again.

Thank you blog post

Thank you for reading. I appreciate your feedback. Please share your thoughts.

79 thoughts on “Living for fame posthumously

  1. Jim Borden

    nice job with the flash fiction. I think we’d all like a little recognition for what we’ve done with our lives while we are alive, and then we can hope that we will continue to be remembered.

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply
    1. Norah Post author

      We all deserve someone to remember us, Debby. You will be remembered by many for many reasons, including all your wonderful books which have touched so many lives.

      Liked by 1 person

      Reply
  2. Jules

    In some family traditions perhaps for some kind of immortality there are son’s and daughters too named Jr after a living relative. Other traditions only name a new child after the death of an ancestor – so that too they family names live on.

    Fame though is another ball of wax. I think I’ve used up all of mine 😉 One year in another state I had a winter photograph come in as an honorable mention and got my photo with the town mayor!… I’ve had little bits of recognition here and there. 😉

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply
    1. Norah Post author

      I guess there are different ways of being remembered, of being ‘famous’ as you say, Jules. Congratulations on your honourable mention and photo with the mayor. I’m sure he found you memorable. Enjoy!

      Liked by 1 person

      Reply
  3. Jacqui Murray

    What a nice story. She truly wasn’t doing her art for fame or fortune. There’s a purity to that.

    I do have this unsettling feeling lately that I haven’t done anything with my life. Is it enough to raise two wonderful children, to lead the best life I could, treat others fairly? Everyone can’t be Mother Theresa or the Dali Lhama. I just don’t know.

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply
    1. Norah Post author

      I’m pleased you enjoyed the story, Jacqui. Thank you.
      But if you haven’t done anything with your life, I haven’t started living yet!
      You have made a wonderful contribution and achieved so much. Your contribution of two wonderful human beings who are now making their own contributions is just the tip of the iceberg. Relax. Enjoy!

      Like

      Reply
  4. Prior...

    Enjoyed the part of your post
    , with the layered topic of fame! — leading up to the list of those artists recognized after death – and some names were new to me so I might be exploring later!

    Then your fiction flowed right in and I wonder how many folks in real life end up pulling back into a recluse hideaway and have this lifestyle – so plausible and I could imagine the branches and overgrowth around her place.
    Then my thoughts went to Van Gogh
    (Because he was on the list baby) and yeas who I saw some documentaries on his life and had it not been for his sister n law – with her guilt and grief and love – we might not have seen any art from this many that touched so many with his works!
    And so in your story – the heroes here were the “they”
    The team of construction workers who were not too busy to crush and plow ahead!
    I think you have three sentences with “they” leading up to how this artists work was then global- and the unsung heroes are the ones we can thank on so many occasions !

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply
    1. Norah Post author

      Thank you for your thoughtful and detailed comment, Yvette.
      I’m so pleased we have been able to appreciate Van Gogh’s work. Some of my favourite pieces are The Sunflowers and Starry Night. Such beautiful works.
      Interesting that you picked up on the ‘they’. I do tend to use pronouns rather than names in my stories. I’m not sure if it’s because I have difficulty with choosing names (as a teacher I’ve taught children with so many names), because I want to protect the innocent (really – fictional characters?) or to recognise the unsung heroes, as you say, to whom we owe so much.
      Enjoy the rest of your week. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      Reply
      1. Prior...

        Hi Norah – years ago when my own children were little – I used to love how my mother n law used “we” when correcting them – “now we don’t say – ” – Or “remember what “we” do instead?”
        it was so unifying –

        and I have not thought to much about pronouns in stories so that angle is new to me for fiction (but in APA style – like when I help students with research papers – well the pronouns usually go)….
        – but in your piece – the way you used they at the end had that team effect –
        and it kept it more of a team minded thing as opposed to bringing in one specific character –
        maybe one specific character (named) would have pulled from he flow of getting us to the global recognition – maybe it would have taken some strength from the story – so I think it was a great choice and obviously is part of your style right now…

        and the potato eaters is one of my favs from van gogh
        and — his postman paintings – Lol

        Liked by 1 person

        Reply
        1. Norah Post author

          Thank you so much for your thoughtful interpretation and validation of my writing style, Yvette. I appreciate it.
          I think the impressionists were/are my favourite painters. (If I don’t count all the very talented picture book illustrators. 🙂 )

          Liked by 1 person

          Reply
  5. Hugh's Views and News

    I look at fame like I do luck, Norah. Unless you do something that makes it possible, then you will probably never encounter it. On the other hand, some would say they are lucky to have lived a wonderful life to a good age. But is that really ‘luck’ playing it’s hand or is it just because of the way we lived our life?
    There is a saying that everyone has their 15 minutes of fame. I think I had mine when there was some filming being done at Waterloo railway station in London, and I could see myself in the background on the news interview that was being filmed.

    Liked by 2 people

    Reply
    1. Norah Post author

      I think you’re right about luck having a lot to do with it, Hugh. But it also requires a lot of effort too, as you say. Congratulations on your 15 minutes of fame. I think you’re quite famous in the WP circle – for more than 15 minutes. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      Reply
  6. Miriam Hurdle

    Great question you asked, Norah. I think many poets, artists in the history might not think of fame but did what they loved to do and became famous after their deaths. Emily Dickinson locked herself up in the room and wrote poetry on scraps of paper. She didn’t think of becoming famous. I know some artists wanted to sell their work but was not appreciated in their life time.

    Your flash fiction is cute. I’m glad she was not unremembered.

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply
    1. Norah Post author

      Thanks for your interesting comment, Miriam.
      I’m with you. I’m pleased she was not unremembered. I don’t think it made any difference to her life, though.

      Like

      Reply
        1. Norah Post author

          I think that is the best reason, Miriam – to write about your life for those you love, so they will know more about you and their history.

          Like

          Reply
  7. Anne Goodwin (Annecdotist)

    Interesting angle, Norah. I think I’ve written elsewhere that people often automatically link the word famous to author, even when most of us aren’t. But I’m equally guilty: I remember once meeting an actor and thinking she couldn’t be any good because I hadn’t heard of her, when she was actually just doing her job. I’m thinking of the Joni Mitchell song For Free

    Please can I have more readers but skip the fame, and I don’t give a monkey’s for after I’m dead.

    And your flash says it all!

    Liked by 2 people

    Reply
    1. Norah Post author

      Thanks for linking to the Joni Mitchell song, Anne. I don’t think I’d heard it before. It reminds me of the story of the ‘famous’ violinist (I think) who played on a street corner or shopping mall somewhere and no one took any notice. That night when he played in the concert hall, people paid hundreds of dollars for a ticket. I think sometimes the fame is more important than the talent. You’ve got the talent. Maybe you need a bit more fame to get the readers too. I think I feel the same.

      Liked by 1 person

      Reply
  8. calmkate

    cute story … you can keep the fame and fortune! I’m glad to have enough to pay the bills and although my poetry and pics are passable they are not gifted.
    Many WP people are gifted, including Robbie above, they are already famous in their own right!

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply
    1. Norah Post author

      How famous, Robbie? Have you reached your goal yet? According to the articles I read, there are fewer who are famous after death than in life. It’s one of those myths. Interesting though.

      Liked by 1 person

      Reply
      1. robertawrites235681907

        I suppose, Norah, that famous is in the eyes of the beholder. To me fame would be to write a book that has lasting content that is appreciated for years to come like Jane Eyre or Dracula. I may never achieve this, but it is something to work towards [smile].

        Liked by 2 people

        Reply
  9. thecontentedcrafter

    Fame is a ‘thing’ isn’t it Norah – some people want it just like they want a certain car. Very often they seem to think they don’t have to do anything to have it either – a bit like today’s celebrity hoo-ha. Doing something worthwhile with our lives is far more important and leaving those who knew us remembering us with love and respect is all the fame I’d like to aspire to. I rather like your reclusive artist and would hope they would just leave her art alone and let it be there until it too turns to dust – but alas I think that is not the world we live in. I hope I’m not sounding too curmudgeonly today 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    Reply
        1. D. Avery @shiftnshake

          Ah, Norah, your fame gained in a flash! This one of yours has certainly garnered great discussion. I think with fame, for many, it’s like winning the lottery, maybe in more ways than one, but certainly as a caution- be careful what you wish for, it can ruin you. I’m thinking most writers would like to have readers though. I suppose most everyone wants some validation for the work they do. But to be sustainable the motivation and rewards have to be intrinsic.

          Liked by 1 person

          Reply
          1. Norah Post author

            Hmm. I think validation is the word, D. Validation more than fame, especially fleeting fame. Validation for writers comes through the appreciation of readers. We don’t need fame in a global sense, but to have our work recognised and appreciated is something we strive for (most of us?)

            Liked by 1 person

            Reply
    1. Norah Post author

      Never curmudgeonly, Pauline, and even if you were, you’d still be welcome. I agree with your statement “Doing something worthwhile with our lives is far more important and leaving those who knew us remembering us with love and respect is all the fame I’d like to aspire to.” That’s good enough for me too.

      Liked by 2 people

      Reply
  10. Charli Mills

    Such an interesting question you pose, Norah. I think we have to be satisfied with creating art, not knowing if it will stand the test of time to become classic. Marketing in an oversaturated marketplace, ah, that’s enough to send any shy artist to hide out where we find your character lived and died, but was found and remembered.

    Liked by 2 people

    Reply
    1. Norah Post author

      I agree, Charli. I think we have to do what we love doing now. If it’s fame we want, I’m sure there’d be easier ways of getting it. Making even a ripple in an over-saturated market is difficult enough.

      Like

      Reply
  11. petespringerauthor

    You pose an interesting question, Norah. For me, I don’t care about being famous alive or dead. What matters to me is what my loved ones and friends think about me. It is a crazy notion to think that someone died before receiving accolades.

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply
    1. Norah Post author

      I’m with you on that, Pete. I think in a previous discussion, I may have mentioned a much younger (childhood) thought of posthumous fame. It’s too late for that now. I haven’t even started on the body of work. 😁😂 I would like my children and grandchildren to remember me fondly but, if they do or not, I guess I’ll never know.

      Like

      Reply
  12. Erica/Erika

    An interesting premise, Norah. It is a good reminder to really think about where we put our attention. Even the concept of the word “fame.” Your story is sad, especially since it is likely an example true to life. An eccentric recluse often is very intelligent and creative. Thinking about someone I knew:)

    Liked by 2 people

    Reply

I appreciate your feedback. Please share your thoughts.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.