As I make my way through Richard Ford's latest novel, Canada, there are many thoughts that occur to me. Most of them are related to the book, but one that keeps popping up is a writing question.
In case you've never heard of Richard Ford he's about the age of my father and has a lengthy wikipedia entry. For purposes of this post all I want you to know is he's the first writer to be awarded both the PEN Faulkner Award and Pulitzer Prize for Fiction for the same novel.
In short, he's an amazing, well-respected writer. But, from what I've observed, E.L. James gets substantially more press.
Which brings me to my question.
Assuming the two options are mutually exclusive, would you rather be well-respected and widely awarded or well-compensated and widely read?
There's a part of me (the part that has to keep telling my kids, 'No, my books are not in the running for any awards at the moment') that salivates over the idea of writing a prize-winning work of literary fiction. It would be like winning the grand champion writer's ribbon. In my mind it's purple with an enormous rosette. I would pin it up in my office and whenever I doubted my writing abilities, it would be there to remind me someone, somewhere once thought my writing was award-worthy.
There's another part of me that would find immense gratification in an overflowing stream of royalties; the kind of money that could be used to pay for vacations or mortgages as opposed to shoes and lunches with friends.
I recognize the choices presented are extreme options. The kind of thing only at issue for the top 1% of the top 1% of all writers. I'd do the math, but you all know there's a reason I'm a writer and not an engineer.
Still, I'm curious. If you had to choose, would you take the E.L. James path of fame and fortune or the literary accolades of a Richard Ford?
And to those who take the time to answer...here's hoping someday you actually find yourself at that particular fork in the road.