Nathan Bransford, Author


Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Which Writer's Career Would You Most Like to Emulate?

We all have writers we look up to for their body of work, their fame, the adulation they receive, and maybe even the islands they own.

Whose career would you most like to emulate? Would you go for the fame, riches, awards, or all of the above?

Which writer's life do you look at and say: I want that.






280 comments:

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Snarky Writer said...

Except for the crazy stalker people, I'd like to imitate Mercedes Lackey's career. Or maybe Robin McKinley's.

j. m. lee said...

Gonna have to say Neil Gaiman. He has a strong body of work that crosses age categories and medium, from graphic novels to novels to movies, lives in the midwest (I wouldn't have to move), has a sweet dog, and is engaged to Amanda Palmer. I mean, is popular with all sorts of people for his amazing work.

Bryan B. said...

I'm going to go ahead and get the pretentious, "I don't want to be ANY other writer than myself..." line before anybody else can drop it.

Okay, with that I'm going to go with John Green. Because he's funny and writes the good books.

;)

Misty said...

I'd like to reach a million minds and get the millions of dollars but I wouldn't want the worries of Rowlings or King or Meyers. Tom Robbins made a really good point that he stays out of the limelight because the more the reader knows about the author, the more the story is tainted by that knowledge. I agree with that. I'd like to be a quiet success.

Jan Rider Newman said...

Sarah Dunant because she has an incredible and varied body of work.

JuliaSD said...

Neil Gaiman. Definitely. He's so versatile and he keeps bees! What could be better? :D

Chase March said...

Douglas Coupland. I love how he writes about normal people in the modern world. He has classic work and name recognition. Most notable Canadian author that I can think of who I actually look forward to reading.

Toni Anderson said...

Nora Roberts.

Kimber An said...

Jane Yolen.

She can write whatever the heck she wants, from children's picture books to adult Fantasy, and be continually on the shelves at Barnes & Noble anyway.

dyockman said...

Well Nora Roberts or Christina Dodd, but only because they have been prolific and made fantastic careers of writing. That's what I want.

Dawn Maria said...

The two writers I respect most in my genre (women's fiction) are Jane Green and Claire Cook. They write relatable, fun fiction, write regularly and have a successful balance between work and family life, which I believe is more important than fame, awards or cash. They also reach out to fans and emerging writers with genuine enthusiasm.

Christopher Cocca said...

I'm really liking Junot Diaz and Victor LaValle right now. Acclaimed debut story collections followed by acclaimed novels. I also love what Diaz shows us about not giving up...about how long it took for him to write the novel version of Oscar Wao, how many times he put it away and came back to it.

Flannery O'Connor's career astounds me because of the depth she achieved in such a relatively short career.

Jonathan Safran Foer for his everywhereness...fiction, now nonfiction, the Colbert Report.

Chuck Palahniuk for doing exactly what he wants with his work. And because of how good "Rant" is.

Cora Zane said...

Ray Bradbury. Great author voice, and memorable work.

Harper K. said...

Libba Bray. Rockstar reputation in the YA world and (seemingly) able to do what she wants in terms of switching genres, writing series vs. standalones, etc., but not so famous that she'd get besieged by fans in the local coffee shop.

The Reader said...

I have to say Margaret Atwood. She writes across boundaries (literary fiction, science fiction, essays, poetry) and has a long career with awards to recognize her work. She may not be as well known as Douglas Coupland whose work has been adapted for TV (and whom I also admire for the reasons mentioned by Chase March), but what she has accomplished is admirable.

ablencri said...

That's a good one. I'm going with Neil Gaiman because he works quietly and consistently, with occasional bursts of hubbub but not very often, and his work is varied, and he manages to seem like a nice, normal guy and not attract too many of the crazies.

Deb said...

Jonathan Safran Foer or Toni Morrison. If my work was nearly half as gorgeous as theirs, who cares what my career would be like!

Donna Alward said...

Debbie Macomber, for lots of reasons:

a) she knows what she does and she does it well

b) she understands that readers are her lifeblood and treats them well

c) she gives back

She's been so smart about building her career. I really admire that.

Anonymous said...

Jonathan Stroud.

treena & kootenay said...

I love Martina Cole. There is no artifice to her. http://www.guardian.co.uk/lifeandstyle/2009/may/31/martina-cole-books

Susan Quinn said...

Any children's writer that has kids memorizing the titles of their book series and dueling over which is best.

:)

Or just Scott Westerfeld.

smr said...

maggie stiefvater. writing accesible YA that's bestselling but also acknowledged to be well written. she sold the movie rights for her book, recently signed a new six figure deal, yet still remains accesible and interacts with fans on her blog and twitter.

Monica said...

Ursula K. Le Guin. :)

Tracy said...

I'm gonna have to go with Stephen King. Not only was he able to develop a loyal reader following that has stayed with him for decades now, but he's constantly picking up new ones. Heck most of my favorite King books were written before I was born or while I was still in grade school.

I would like to avoid the whole alcohol and drug addiction thing ... though I may need a Starbucks intervention at the right I'm going.

MahoneyMusings said...

Erma Bombeck.

She is my hero.

Anonymous said...

Kurt Vonnegut first and foremost. Tim O'Brien is a close second. To have written "all that truth" in fiction is mind-boggling.

Sharon Moore

Abby Stevens said...

Someone who has success but not constant media attention. I wouldn't want JK Rowling's or Stephanie Meyer's career. I'd like to be somebody somewhat under the radar but never completely forgotten about, someone who achieves success but not up in the stratosphere kind of success... maybe Jennifer Weiner or Lauren Willig?

Tracy said...

At the *rate* I'm going.

T. Anne said...

While I would love to have the literary legs of Nora Roberts, Nicholas Sparks and Jody Picoult, I don't enjoy reading their entire body of work. I would love to write like Janet Fitch, Wally Lamb and Barbara Kingsolver who I appreciate on a more intimate level, but don't have the volumes of novels out there for me to enjoy.

Anonymous said...

Cormac McCarthy or Pat Conroy.

Anonymous said...

Michael Chabon.

Joseph L. Selby said...

While there are a number of authors whose fame, riches, and awards I would love to have, I really like the life I have outside of writing as much as I enjoy my own efforts at writing. I'll stick to me.

If JK has too many riches and wants to send some my way, I won't argue. :)

sesgaia said...

Dorothy Sayers. She wrote mystery novels that are still considered some of the best in the genre, but she also wrote serious work, also admired. I also echo the Margaret Atwood choice, for her ability to cross genres at will.

Anonymous said...

Jhumpa Lahiri

Anonymous said...

Joseph Conrad has my undying love and admiration.

Sarah M. said...

Stephenie Meyer

kathrynjankowski said...

It's a toss between Kate DiCamillo and Patricia McKilip. Both produce quality work on a consistent basis and have a solid base of admirers.

lotusgirl said...

Would it sound too greedy to say JK Rowling? Seriously, though, she got kids reading who didn't. Plus, she gives back. Although, I think I'd like some literary notice, too, if I'm really dreaming. How about between Rowling and Shannon Hale.

Scott said...

Dave Barry because of his ability to make so many people laugh.

Reesha said...

I'd probably say Neil Gaiman, though without all the divorces.

Dave Guilford said...

Hunter S. Thompson. No contest.

TrishaleighKC said...

Nicholas Sparks. His stories touch people. He's successful but seems down to earth. He keeps tight control of his adapted material, and the films are well done as well as financially viable. Also, he gets to live on a Carolina beach. :)

Ben Ogobe said...

Don Novello...that's for sure!

Vegas Linda Lou said...

Steve Martin. He can write anything, perform anything, and can even play the banjo.

T.J. said...

James Dashner and Brandon Sanderson. I definitely hero worship Dashner (my blog shows that) and Sanderson is awesome for what he's accomplished.

Ted Cross said...

I guess I would take Dennis McKiernan, because somehow he managed to convince agents/publishers to publish his terrific Iron Tower trilogy even though it was highly derivative of Tolkien, just like my work.

Christy said...

I would love to write like Jonathan Safran Foer or Markus Zusak. Both are amazing writers - intricate plot and poetic language.

Rick Daley said...

I'll go with Elmore Leonard, because I think it was him who said "It took me 38 years to become an overnight success" and I'm 38. I'll be going to bed now. Hope to carry this discussion further tomorrow.

Josin L. McQuein said...

There was a quote I heard a long time ago: Shoot for the moon. Even if you miss, you'll land among the stars.

So, keeping that in mind -

For number of books sold, JK Rowling.
For longevity, Stephen King.
For tone, Neil Gaiman.

Matilda McCloud said...

I'm not a huge fan of Jennifer Weiner's novels, but I'd like her career--she connects well with her readers, has bestsellers, had a novel or two made into movies, and I think she's writing a show for TV. She writes articles for women's magazines, supports libraries, etc. She's also out there defending women writers and is never afraid to voice her opinion about things, which is refreshing. So many writers--esp writers of lit. fiction--are essentially invisible. Perhaps because it adds to their mystique?

Bane of Anubis said...

Uncle Stevie, minus the car accident and cocaine addiction.

What about you, NB?

sherrah said...

Madeleine L'Engle. She spent her entire life writing and her books span so many genres and age groups. Even through the tough years when nothing was being published, she kept writing.

Debby said...

Hunter S Thompson

Katt said...

Janet Evanovich.

Andrea M. Bodel said...

Patricia C. Wrede. She started out as a short story author, just like me, and moved on to tell the most fabulous dragon story I've ever read in my life. I hope to be as flexible.

Mindi Scott said...

John Green. Or maybe Sarah Dessen. :-)

Moira Young said...

Either Robin McKinley, Tamora Pierce, or Diane Duane, except that I want kids.

Suzie F. said...

Laurie Halse Anderson

She has a strong teen voice and her novels have touched many lives. She appears to have achieved a great balance between her writing, her family life, and her fans. And have you seen the gorgeous writing cabin that her husband built for her? The magic window is amazing!

Erica Woo said...

Definitely Guy Gavriel Kay. Historical and epic fantasy at its finest :)

Yat-Yee said...

Ask my which classical musician's career I'd like to emulate and I'd say Yo Yo Ma without missing a beat. He has great technique, a great tone, and wonderful passion, AND he has a curiosity and respect for different genres.

Okay, okay, I'll answer the question lest I fail this test:

M. T. Anderson
Suzanne Collins

Anonymous said...

Dalton Trumbo because he wrote something that changed the people that read it.

Jen said...

The longevity and sheer amount of material of Stephen King crossed with the subject matter/style of Tess Gerritsen, the humour of Lisa Gardner along with the TV-series-inspired-by-the-books of Kathy Reichs and the loved-by-teens factor of S.E. Hinton.

Coral Fellows said...

William Langewiesche or Cormac McCarthy. I am not sentimental.

Nathan Bransford said...

BofA-

I can't decide. Most of the writers whose body of work I love the most died of alcoholism or penury, so it's tough to want to emulate their career.

Leigh Anne said...

Most definitely Dean Koontz. Love the supernatural suspense/thrillers he coughs up as if plagued by a terminal flu. Oh, & Orson Scott Card - The Ender Series & Neil Stephenson - wow, can he write futurist stuff with a glaring flare; OH wait! That's more than one...

Leigh Anne said...

In my novel currently in the works "The Tengali Triad" a futuristic thriller/suspense - I'm striving to emulate Koontz meets Card & Stephenson...excerpts @ Leigh-Anne-Lindsey.com

Jen said...

Neil Gaiman seems to have a very enviable writing life. I'd go with him as well. Also, anyone who does own an island, or a place on an island. I can't say that wouldn't be nice. Maybe Hemingway who was able to travel to Paris, Spain and to live in Cuba (without all the pressure, divorces and the suicide).

Jess said...

My first thought is my favorite writer, Joshilyn Jackson. She's gaining steadily in popularity, but more important to me, her books are simply brilliant. If I could write amazing books and do well enough to keep writing, that would be my ideal career. I wouldn't say no to ubersuccess, but it's not my driving force or my pie-in-the-sky dream. I want to write amazing books and have them published and mostly liked because they are amazing. :)

The Pollinatrix said...

This is a great question. Thank you, Mr. Bransford, for making me think about this.

For me it would have to be Wendell Berry, Barbara Kingsolver, and Annie Dillard for their genre-hopping bodies of work, and Elizabeth Gilbert for the travel.

Another reason Barbara Kingsolver is on this list is because of her integration of family, writing, and running a farm.

christine zoe palau said...

Gary Shteyngart! He seems to eat very well.

Bane of Anubis said...

Ah, a tortured artist w/o the torture -- explains the Kings affiliation ;)

Ann (bunnygirl) said...

Thomas Pynchon. I don't want to be a celebrity. I just want people to read my books.

Sarah W said...

Robert B. Parker's writing life would be wonderful. He had the support of his spouse, a loyal following, and earned enough to write the books he wanted to write.

He was known for being kind to fans and aspiring writers and apparently had no ego to get in the way. His characters are beloved and he himself is sorely missed.

What else would I need?

Casey McCormick said...

Laurie Halse Anderson.

Dara said...

Michelle Moran. I hope I can write stories like hers--steeped in history but not so much so that it ovewhelms the reader.

Plus I envy that she gets to travel all over the world. I want that too... :P

Stephen Parrish said...

Hemingway. Except for the end.

pws said...

My first thought was Scalzi, in terms of career, because he seems so even keeled and stable. And writes great stuff.
Then I remember Dan Simmons, whose work I would go to great efforts to read, if needed. He's defied genre pidgionholing and continually hits it out of the park. Scalzi may yet do that, but not yet.
So Simmons.

Christopher Cocca said...

yeah, I'd add Gaiman, too. He can write, you know, "real books" but they also let him write "Whatever Happened to the Caped Crusader."

I wouldn't mind that at all.

Anonymous said...

I don't look at any writer's life, career or accomplishments that way.

I only want my own career and accomplishments.

Anonymous said...

Harriet Doerr, because I still remember her National Book Award-winning debut Stones for Ibarra, published when she was 73. Her career offers so much hope for older writers who've been working hard on craft but haven't yet found a place in the industry.

veela-valoom said...

I think its hard to really know what any writers life is like. So how do you really choose?

Whoever said Libba Bray I think I might agree. I feel like she is always herself - both funny & quirky. I don't always find myself in agreement with her BUT I like how she speaks her mind but is respectful of dissenting opinions in the discussion.

She experiments with genre, plays with youtube, writes YA. Unless her life completely falls apart it seems pretty interesting at least.

sex scenes at starbucks said...

Right now I'm emulating Shawn White rather than other writers. There are a lot of lessons to learn there. He went off by himself, forsaking friendship and team-building for skills he built in a private half-pipe. His hard work showed at the Olympics, and it's something that's keeping my fingers on my keyboard.

For half his fame, I'd happily sit in my recliner by myself and write until my fingers fall off!

M Clement Hall said...

Out of date, and definitely before my time, and I'm choosing two. Both of them for their ability to bring characters to life, one of them (possibly two) for social conscience so their work had meaning as well as interest.
Yes, Charles Dickens and Anthony Trollope. If we're to have an American, then Elmore Leonard, not for any social conscience but for "leaving out the bits that people skip."
This should be an interesting response column!

roxy said...

I write Women's Fiction, and in today's market, I'd like to be Tracy Chevalier. She's successful without being too famous. Her work is often haunting, always interesting, and it's entertaining to boot. If we were to go back in time, I'd choose Jane Austen.

James said...

I find it entertaining that Neil Gaiman seems to be mentioned more than any other on the list. I feel the same way. I love how his career has developed, tho I often feel his work on Sandman has yet to be eclipsed by his prose.

So Neil Gaiman's career, but I want to write like Salinger & Capote...but without their attendant weirdness.

abc said...

Joan Didion, except without all the sorrow of late. I want to have steady work, respect, and enough money to stay at the Beverly Wilshire now and then. Plus, she has a lot of cool, interesting friends.

reader said...

Scott Smith.
(The Ruins, A Simple Plan)

Because his books sell and he can afford to take time off for other things like screenwriting.

I've never admired super prolific writers who churn out two books a year or even one book a year. My ideal would be one book every four years, but have it be a bestseller and stay in print and selling.

Melody said...

Sharon Kay Penman. I read somewhere that she lost the entire draft of a novel after it was stolen from her car. (This was in the typewriter days.) She rewrote the entire thing. Anyone with that much perseverence is amazing.

Anonymous said...

Brandon Sanderson.

He doesn't have the "fame" per se compared to some of these others, but I believe he's had the biggest honor.

Robert Jordan died a while back of a rare disease before finishing his epic and world-wide adored series. After he passed, his wife hand picked Sanderson to pick up the Wheel of Time and finish it. Rumor has it, Sanderson never asked nor petitioned for the job.

That is as big of a compliment as one could ever aspire for. Few or perhaps no other writers could brag of such honor on such a widely adored series.

~John Reason

Terry said...

A lot of the writers I admire most had terrible lives, so I'd love to be as good a writer, but wouldn't want to swap lives.

I'd always take money over fame. Fame is evil.

Holly Bodger said...

Ally Carter or Meg Cabot!

Karen said...

I hate Stephenie Meier because I want to be Stephenie Meier.

Only with better books.

Nita Lou Bryant said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Tatiana said...

Jennifer Weiner, and not just because she is from Philly (like me) but because of her tone and humor and that in addition to writing best sellers she continues to write nonfiction.

Tatiana said...

Jennifer Weiner, and not just because she is from Philly (like me) but because of her tone and humor and that in addition to writing best sellers she continues to write nonfiction.

Nick said...

Ideally, I'd like Rankin-love success. Well-known within the respective field, not totally unknown outside of it, but still not known enough to be a household name. Successful enough to be able to live well using money from the books, with at least one award at some point later down the road.

Ultimately, I'd be fine with just being able to rent a comfortable flat and be able to afford my groceries with my writing money, and not be totally unknown within the genre. Bestsellers or awards are certainly nice, particularly the latter, but they're not an ultimate goal.

Really though at this point my answer would have to be: Every writer's. Publication is kind of an important first step.

Nita Lou Bryant said...

Well, shoot. A pesky typo crept into my first try!

What I meant to say was:

Pulitzer Prize winner Anne Tyler, who's published 17 novels to date, raised a family, and created characters so vividly imperfect and memorable I feel as though I've known them for years in real life.

NipponBeck said...

I agree with everyone who said Neil Gaiman where his body of work is concerned - though I'd love to have the quiet success of Diana Wynne Jones, too. I don't know! How about a fusion of the two?

Mira said...

Fun question!

My ambitions are small. I'd love to write books with the power of George Orwell, Camus (don't agree, but can't argue with the impact) Freud, Marx - world changing books. Ha! Realistically, I doubt I can do THAT.

But I also admire writers that inspire and touch - Anne Frank, Hellen Keller, Eleanor Roosevelt. Probably lots of others I can't think of, and many I haven't read.

If I could accomplish even 1 percent of what they accomplished....

Kristi said...

All I want is to be someone's answer to this question at some point in the future.

Anonymous said...

Just an observation -- I'm stunned at those that DO want fame. I'd always assumed fame is just an evil of a curse to writers as it is to actors and politicians. I want to be able to go for a walk, not have people stare at me when I buy Q-tips at Target, and be able to go into Starbucks (or wherever) and be anonymous.

Joe Iriarte said...

What a great question.

I love Gaiman's books, but somehow he just doesn't seem like the right answer for me. I think in my mind I'm approaching the question more in terms of who does what I do, only better/is more advanced along that path. Who is successful writing things I wish *I'd* written. I love Gaiman's books, but I don't write like him and I don't think I ever will. I just read it, in awe. (Throw Susanna Clarke in the same category for me.)

Stephen King and Orson Scott Card come a bit closer to what I aspire to, craft-wise, except I don't write horror and I wouldn't want a career that veered into angry political ranting.

In the end, the two choices that seem most "right" to me are both people whose careers are still (I hope!) in their early stages.

It's been nearly twenty years since Steven Gould wrote Jumper, and it was a huge seller and a (terrible) movie, but he hasn't written all that many books yet, and he still had a day job up until the movie. He's not the biggest seller or the one who's won the most awards, but I love his books--not just the Jumper ones but his others, particularly Helm. When I sit down to write, I'm basically trying to recreate the feeling of satisfaction that his books give me.

Mary Robinette Kowal's first novel hasn't hit the stores yet (I believe) but her short stories all resonate with me and are pretty similar to what I'm trying to write. So for me it's not about who is making the money or winning the awards I want, but who is succeeding at writing like I would like to.

[tl;dr]: Steven Gould and Mary Robinette Kowal

Marsha Sigman said...

I have to say Stephen King.
I don't really want all that fame but the man kicks ass and can write from multiple points of view.

He is a genius.

educlaytion said...

Gotta go with King Solomon (Proverbs, Song of Solomon, Ecclesiastes...)
1) On the best-sellers list for 3,000 years.
2) Everyone from the Beatles to world leaders use his stuff.
3) Richest and wisest human on planet.
4) Not so sure about hundreds of wives and Wilt Chamberlain lifestyle though.
5) Lived a long life, died peacefully.

pambelina said...

Shannon Hale.

Her books are beautiful and she has some fame, but still maintains a certain amount of anonymity.

Sam said...

Isaac Asimov, I think.

Wrote like crazy and basically lived the life of wonderment that he wanted to. I can get behind that.

Tawny Taylor said...

Nora Roberts. While I don't necessarily enjoy all her books, I do admire what she's accomplished and how hard she's worked to get where she is. My goal is to have a career that builds gradually, steadily.

Ciara said...

sylvia plath's talent
jk rowling's money and success
salinger's privacy
and jessica fletcher's ability to solve murder

Steff Metal said...

Neil Gaimen
Nick Cave (As in: Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds)
Melissa Marr

All three of these authors write books I LOVE, books which evoke a feeling I want to achieve in my own work, but they're also creative in other ways: songwriting, movies, music, blogging, scriptwriting, art. They're not poor, but not super rich. They are the most incredible, intelligent and nice people to talk to, and they have increbily drive, determination, and ideas. If I could count myself among their ranks one day, I would be happy.

hannah said...

Laurie Halse Anderson.

mb said...

Geraldine McCaughrean. Prolific AND a master of craft, with that additional element of sheer mind-blowing genius that makes it into a good number of her books. Also, though well known in some circles, she does not have the kind of fame that would be oppressive .

John said...

Alan Furst. One great book comes out every other Father's Day. Most research takes place in Europe. Two years seems like a doable pace for a new book. AND YOU GET YOUR OWN ABSOLUT AD!

KID LIT WRITERS said...

I'm going to have to go with Natalie Babbitt. Her books run the gamut from funny to serious to haunting, and usually manage to be all three between the covers. They tell enormous stories in ways that sneak up on you when you aren't looking.

Marilyn Peake said...

Probably Barbara Kingsolver, Cormac McCarthy, or J.K. Rowling – because they’re all amazing writers, each with their own unique writing style, who live quiet lives. Barbara Kingsolver lives on a farm, Cormac McCarthy works with a think tank group, and J.K. Rowling lives in a castle that she bought and had modernized. I’d also love to be as successful as Neil Gaiman: to travel as much as he does, to have huge book signings and special events all over the world, and to have my books made into plays and movies. Ah, I’m such a daydreamer...

Helena Halme said...

William Boyd.

He had a a best selling novel, A Good Man in Africa, at the age of 29 in 1981 and has since written consistently at a rate of about a book a year, as well as writing article and screenplays. His writing has only improved.

Besides, when I saw him speak at the London Book Fair he came across as a very nice and modest man.

Debbie said...

Margaret Atwood. Brilliant writer with a fantastic body of work. She's reached a point in her career where she can pretty much say and do as she pleases.

Swifty said...

Dr. Seuss...

The Man has books, and movies and musicals about his stuff...

Hahahahaha...

Ulysses said...

As far as other writer's lives go, I don't think I envy anyone. Behind every phenomenal success story (Steve King, Joanne Rowling, etc.) there's often a story about a hard life. If that's the price of success, no quiero, gracias.

If we're just talking career, though, I'd like John Scalzi's, thanks. Or Neil Gaiman. Or Terry Pratchett. They're all doing things I'd like to do and making a good living at it.

Susan Adrian said...

Libba Bray. Great sense of humor, seemingly great writer's community of friends, balancing a family with writing fabulous books. She wrote the weird book of her heart, after completely switching genres, and won a Printz for it!

Jonathon Arntson said...

Lois Lowry + John Green.

Liesl said...

M.T. Anderson. Mostly because I might want to smoke what he was smoking when he wrote "Whales on Stilts." And then he can go write non-fiction picture books and serious historical fiction. I want to be versatile like that. Wacky, serious, satirical.

Ed Miracle said...

I would most like to emulate my own career, especially if it means I get to have one.

Jenny said...

Maybe I'm the crazy one, but I'd take either King's career or J.K. Rowlings. I love the rags-to-riches aspects of their lives--and I really, really love the stories they tell, and the fact that their stories connect with so many people.

If I ever have a story idea that'll get that many people reading, you can bet your bottom dollar that I'll run with it.

Jim said...

Excuse me? J.K. Rowling is as rich as the queen...I'd be happy with half of that.

OK, two-thirds.

Kim Batchelor said...

William Shakespeare. Who can beat the staying power?

D. G. Hudson said...

My choices: Ernest Hemingway's career and living locations -- Paris, Key West, Cuba, etc. but omitting the last part of his life and his love-em and leave-em relationships.

I also admire the career of Sheri S. Tepper - an American author of science fiction, horror and mystery novels; she is particularly known as a feminist science fiction writer, often with an ecofeminist slant (thanks to Wikipedia).

Frank Herbert - author of the DUNE series - one I never tire of reading, and I. Asimov - the Foundation saga and the Robot series. These two authors created universes that still surpass some of the current science fiction.

If I had to choose only one, that choice would be Hemingway -- winning the nobel prize would be good for marketing. . .

EJ Fechenda said...

Stephenie Meyer except I would be more entertaining when on Oprah.

Mary Anne said...

Fellow attorney John Grisham - if only he wrote romance.

Because he doesn't though, maybe there's a wee bit of room for my contemporaries -- right at the intersection of love and the law.

Nicole L Rivera said...

Jerry B. Jenkins. He has followed God's calling, made a huge impact on the world with The Left Behind Series, is constantly giving back, and is an all around genuine person.

lora96 said...

Alice Hoffman.

Her work is elegant, poignant, and she makes bold plot and genre choices. Her versatility is great but her imagery is even better. Plus I left a comment on the guest book of her web site after reading The Third Angel and she actually responded.

I also agree with the people who don't want to be Meyer or Dan Brown--you get major sales but also too much fan attention and detractor scrutiny. Plus I would cry a lot if readers and critics said the hateful things about my writing that I have heard about theirs.

Kelly said...

Jane Yolen. She is talented in any genre!

Haste yee back ;-) said...

Martin Handford... the guy who *wrote* WHERE'S WALDO! (not wrote, but drew, didn't write one damn word)...

Haste yee back ;-)

The Decreed said...

Clive Staples Lewis

Meagan Carpenter said...

Philippa Greggory for her wild success and Michelle Moran for her writing style, her lifestyle, and her amazing hair. Yes, I'm really that shallow.

Mark Terry said...

Tough one, really. Probably John Sandford because of the overall level of quality he's brought to every single freakin', successful book and the way he's managed to create a second successful series, as well as continue to write some short nonfiction and book-length nonfiction, as well as some scripts. He's also able, I think, to live below the celebrity radar.

Stephen King just for his ability to write everything--novels, short fiction, teleplays, film scripts, nonfiction books and reviews and... but I don't want his level of fame. I'd prefer to be able to walk around the world without people recognizing me.

I've often commented that I like Lee Goldberg because he successfully writes novels, TV scripts, nonfiction, and even film scripts.

Uh-oh. I see a theme there.

Anonymous said...

Like many people on here, Neil Gaiman.

Munk said...

I dunno. I don't know many writers. I'm not so interested in writing as a career, except to say that I want it to pay my bills so that I can write more. I definitely don't have the desire to emulate someone else's life.
My mantra: I don't want to be everybody's favorite writer, but I do want to write a few people's favorite book.

Debbie at 10:44 - You've chosen some BIG shoes to fill. Oh, and do me a favor... step away from the gun.

Michael A. Emeritz said...

Clive Barker: he does whatever moves him. He was also able to combine his love for film, books, and art.
Hunter S.Thompson: he changed the way people perceived journalism, and that carried over to his writing as well. He was the rockstar of writers.

That would be ideal, but for now... anyone published, haha.

stephanie said...

Echoing The Reader, sesgaia, and Debbie: Margaret Atwood for certain.

The Red Angel said...

J.K. Rowling and Jodi Picoult. I want fame more than money, though getting the best of both worlds would be nice! :P I want to be known for my creativity (Rowling) and the morals and lessons embedded within my writing (Picoult). I want to be able to inspire others and use my writing to beneit the lives of others (both of them).

Anonymous said...

Frank Herbert, for his excellence at world building, or Stephen King, for his prolific-ness.

David Kubicek said...

Ray Bradbury's early career. By the time he was about 50 years old he started losing his edge. By then he was becoming too contented with life and positive about the future. A little angst makes a good writer.

Shelley Watters said...

I would love to have a career like Nora Roberts. She seems to have a stable career and puts out a book or series regularly.

In the past few months, at least since I have started trying to find an agent I've become very conscious of the books people around me are reading, who they are and their demographics. When I'm sitting in waiting rooms I find myself discreetly trying to see what book they are reading. It's overwhelmingly Nora Roberts (which of course is primarily female readers). I would love to have that kind of following.

But, at the moment I would just love to finish the first draft of my YA novel and find an agent. No matter what happens in my career, if I get just one book published I will feel like I have succeeded.

dan radke said...

I'd like to have a cult following. I'd pretty much be unknown, but if two strangers met each other and found out they both read me, they'd immediately be able to say, "Hey, you're cool." Like Modest Mouse circa 1999.

And anything over a eighty grand a year would be all right with me.

John Jack said...

You know, I don't want to emulate anyone's career. I like Hemingway's writing, his successes, but don't want to follow him. Same with J.D. Salinger's. I'd rather have not followed Steinbeck's life influences, but Fate has a mission for me that required hardships. Dickinson, love her poetry, not her life. I will be orginal.

The career I've had, am having, will have, is the only one for me. The journey's been rewarding so far in spite of the frustrations and rejections and all too few joys. Not for the sake of fame, or riches or awards, but for the journey. Those will come as byproducts if I've followed my path.

I have. Recently, a trailblazing epiphany has come to full fruition. I followed the path that could only be fully realized by going down the trail. My fingertips tingle, my head swims with the ramifications. Ah! the quickening is upon me.

AjFrey said...

Hemingway.

Kidding. I admire Twain the most, but I do not want his life. He definitely channeled his grief into art, but nope, I'm good.

Stephen King, because everything he writes turns to film. I want that. I dream of my characters breathing on the silver screen.

Perfect timing on the post :-) Today on my blog, we're discussing letting yourself daydream - and what you have romanticized about writing. Fun stuff.

Anna Murray said...

Harper Lee

A brilliant American novel, a Pulitzer prize, and over 30 million sold.

I'd take it.

Charmaine Clancy said...

At the moment I think Christine Harris (Audrey of the Outback) because I'd love kids to enjoy my books as much as my daughter enjoys hers. I also think she has a great website.
Don't need the millions of Rowling or the publicity.

Anonymous said...

Mark Z. Danielewski. I admire the scientific way that he constructs his novels.

LeeAnn Flowers said...

I'd love to be like Anne McCaffrey - prolific but quiet.

Bethanne said...

Matthew. Mark. Luke or John... for longterm affect and mainstay.

Christina Dodd for entertainment value, and down-to-earth savvy.

Melissa Gill said...

Kate DiCamillo for me. What a voice. What an imagination. What a string of awards. I saw her speak last year and she said that winning the Newberry meant that Desperaux will always be in print. What a legacy to leave to the worlds children.

Sarah Scotti-Einstein said...

This is such a hard question for memoirists, because the writer I most admire (Abigail Thomas) has lead a life that I thank God I have not had to live. Her book Three Dog Life is perfect; but I would not have my husband--or anyone--hurt the way hers was hurt simply to have the material for such an amazing work.

Chassily Wakefield said...

JK Rowling tops my list, not for the money or fame (I'm not turning them down!), but for her sheer creative genius and because she has touched the lives of so many people. She gives so much. She's made the world a better place on just about every level.

Nora Roberts is a close second. Her work ethic, professionalism and the way she's grown her career...

Yes, I'd like to emulate them both.

Anonymous said...

Jerry Spinelli. Every single one of his books is amazing and speaks to kids. That's what I want.

Cyndy Aleo-Carreira said...

What sherrah said.. L'Engle. She wasn't tied to a genre or a market, and her books are still on school reading lists 50 years after they were published. I have my ten-year-old reading her YA stuff now, and I love that she wrote characters who are just as identifiable now to a computer-raised generation as they were back then. It's not Meyer-, Rowling-, or Brown-money I'd want, because you get pigeonholed. I'd much rather be the writer people can bond over.

The Chocoholic said...

There are so many to choose from...Christina Rosetti for her amazing sexual innuendo and full descriptions despite her pious outwardness...Rudyard Kipling for his ability to tell worldly stories that entertain children and adults alike...or Markus Zusak for saying he wanted to write everyone's favourite book with The Book Thief, which I only discovered he'd said after it became my favourite book. Yeah, I want to be everyone's favourite author.

Amy said...

Madeleine L'Engle, for staying true to her stories even when no one was buying and for balancing writing and family life as a wife and mother so beautifully.

Perle said...

Isaac Asimov. Prolific; wrote what he wanted; fiction, fact, etc...

Anonymous said...

Thomas Pynchon. I don't want to be a celebrity. I just want people to read my books.

Good answer. We need to get away from this idea that the author is a celebrity or a marketing person. The novel is the product, not the author.

Nathan Bransford said...

anon-

Lord Byron's ghost just whispered in my ear that the author-as-celebrity is not a new concept, and Hemingway raised a glass in agreement. I don't think we're getting away from it any time soon.

Naya said...

I've never really felt the compulsion to emulate someone else's life. I'm perfectly content to live my own. I would love happiness and success in my writing career. Fame I think I would consider a curse and wealth a bonus.

Dawn Hullender said...

I would want the world to absorb my work like they did with J. K. Rowling. To know that I've created a world that THE world wants to live in would be fantastic, but I would want to keep the anonyminity of Bentley Little.

I don't think he even owns a computer.

Now that's style.

trebmal said...

C.S. Lewis. He was ostracized by his colleagues, he saw little of his fame in his lifetime, he was poor because of his generosity, and he never compromised his convictions--the latter being a virtue only when one's convictions are good, as his was.

Camillia said...

Maybe not her life but if I could be as talented as anyone I would definitely choose Tamora Pierce. It seems I still have a long way to go considering I just spelled definitely wrong.

Wendy @ All in a Day's Thought said...

Smash Picoult and Elizabeth Berg together and add a dash of Kingsolver and Lamb for good measure.
~ Wendy

wishy the writer said...

I'm surprised no one has mentioned Joyce Carol Oates. I'd sure like to be able to work as much and as well as she has. Her output alone is impressive, but then several of her works have received awards like the Pulitzer, the PEN/Faulkner, the National Book Award. And she's published just about every kind of writing there is! Yeah, I'd take her career!

Rebecca L said...

Well... most of my favorite writers are unpublished at the moment, but if I had to chose a published writer, whos career I'd like to Emulate, I'd have to say Nancy Holder

She's not as well known as some of the authors that others have posted here, although, she's a wonderful and friendly writer! She's willing to help/talk to people and she posts on Facebook (and maybe other social networking sites too, I'm not sure)

Courtney said...

How about Rowling for fame and riches. Zadie Smith for such profoundness in one so young. And Shakespeare for longevity and century-transcending relevance of work.

Dream big, y'all!!!

Anonymous said...

Neil Gaiman for reasons others have given.

Though this topic has the ability to make you simultaneously inspired and depressed. I want this. I'm not this...I may never be. I'll try to be. But if I don't make it...I'll be sad.

Ah well, it's just a goal to keep heading towards :)

Beth S. said...

Agatha Christie
I love her novels, no matter how many times I read them.

Francesca said...

Madeleine L'Engle hands down.

My runner up would be Neil Gaiman but I'm AMAZED at how many other people want to be Neil Gaiman. I've known for a while now that I love his books, quite like him but more than anything, want to have his life.

So interesting.

But yes. I would have Madeleine L'Engle's life except that I would be, you know, alive.

Anonymous said...

J.K. Rowling. 'Cause it don't get no better for a writer.

Trisha Wooldridge said...

I've gotta go with Neil Gaiman, too. He's got such a wonderful personality and his work covers all sorts of media, age, and topic - as does mine. In the few interactions I've had with Gaiman, he has been nothing but genuinely kind, sweet, and supportive to fans and other writers.

Pam said...

I don't write the same type material as she wrote, but if I could follow the success of any one writer, it would be Harper Lee. It was only one book, but that single title continues to touch peoples' lives all these years later.

Kaitlyne said...

When I first started writing as a teenager years ago, I wanted to be like Dean Koontz. He lives a pretty quiet/private life and gets to write for a living. And I haven't heard any crazy stories about people showing up in his kitchen with "bombs" like I have with Stephen King.

I think I've also always admired that he had a tough childhood but seems to be happy and have a good life now and still has a sense of humor in spite of that. I want to be someone who can take adversity well.

Anonymous said...

Edgar Rice Burroughs. The first writer to understand it is both an art and a business and he excelled at both, publishing his own books. And I can't wait for the movie, John Carter of Mars to come out some time in 2012. Been waiting fifty years for it to finally come to the screen...and yes, the Burroughs family will make a bundle.

John said...

C.S. Lewis - extraordinary writer - friend of J.R.R. Tolkien - Oxford fellow - successful - at peace with himself for the most part

Anonymous said...

It's got to be Nathan Bransford. Live in San Franscisco, blog daily, net legions of followers, work as an agent, AND crank out a novel on the side. I like.

Kasey said...

Without a doubt Scott Westerfeld. He writes some of the best YA books ever in my opinion, plus he spends half his year in the US and the other half in Australia (it is my life goal to live in Australia). On top of that, his wife is a writer, and who wouldn't love to have a spouse who writes as well? And its always summer for them (well at least, I don't think it's ever winter...)

sharonedge said...

I agree with Kimber An and Kelly--Jane Yolen. For the same reason, I would emulate Eve Bunting or Gary Paulsen or Anna Myers or Dian Curtis Regan. They have a body of work, love what they do, and have a positive impact on kids.

worstwriterever said...

Any writer who didn't become "famous" for their work until they were dead.

That way my kids could enjoy any sort of benefit while I could avoid pressure and stress etc of success.

Let's face it....successful writers are not always happy people with a zest for a long life.

Colette said...

Patricia Cornwall
or
Tess Gerritsen
or on days when I'm feeling insightful
Jodi Picoult

ryan field said...

Anais Nin

LCS249 said...

Did you mean to leave out craft?

I have a feeling the ones I emulate never counted on fame, riches or awards:

John le Carré, Cormac McCarthy, Ian McEwan.

Nancy said...

Michael Crichton is my pick, noted maybe more for his unusual approach and thought processes than his writing style. Not that the writer's craft isn't important, but if I had half his brain and uncommon view of the world, I'd have all the big houses begging on my doorstep, slurping up any quirky stories I cared to toss out, especially those with a high probability of scientific feasibility. I'd also pick up where he left off on promotion of respect for the scientific method and its assorted legal and moral issues. Crichton's partial credits: fiction, nonfiction (books, essays, speeches), TV, film. :) n

Orange Slushie said...

zadie smith

Shelley Sly said...

I'd have to say someone like Meg Cabot. Successful and writes fun books (that have even become movies), but not *too* famous.

Annie Reynolds said...

OK, lets face it, there would be hardships but I would struggle through them to have some of the wealth of either Rowlings or Meyers, in my dreams I am already there. As for an author I would like to emulate in style I dont think you can go past David Gemmell, he was a story teller of Legend.

Jewel/Pink Ink said...

Am I just imagining it, but has one single person not mentioned Stephenie Meyer so far?

I hope to be as big success as her someday. Fame, fortune, my own concerts, my own island, movies, the works. The last thing I want after spending all that time over my manuscripts is obscurity :-)

Maia Powloski said...

As so many others have said, I would choose my idol, Neil Gaiman, for sheer coolness, delightful mythical allusions and allegories, and too many other reasons to name. And he can write well in several mediums--poetry, novels, short stories, novellas, graphic novels. From what little I know about his personal life, it sounds a bit too dramatic for me, though. For everyday life, I think I'd prefer Ursula Le Guin--relaxed, quiet, easygoing, well-known but not rock-star famous as Gaiman can seem sometimes.

Backfence said...

To develop a character that people love to read about, like Robert B. Parker's Spencer or Sue Grafton's Kinsey Millhone would be a dream come true. The alternative would be to make history come alive to the reader as John Jakes does, through great characters and good story-telling.

Amie Boudreau said...

I don't know that I can say I emulate one writer in particular.
I simply would like to have a successful career as an author. :)

WriteNowNetwork said...

Ann Patchett. She writes across genres and lives a quiet little life and seems like a genuinely nice person.

Jess said...

I would love to have the career of C. S. Lewis. If I could write with half the imagination he has, I would consider myself lucky indeed. And I also appreciate that he is respected not just as an author, but as a person.

Doreen McGettigan said...

Is it crazy that I have read 1000's upon 1000's of books and cannot think of one writers life that I would want to emulate. I want to write and be me..yes the struggling starving author to be..but I have a dream..my own dream..

JustineDell said...

I want: Nora Roberts. For two reasons. One, she's uber popular in her genre and it a total genius. (well, that's really two)Two, she likes to keep to herself and doesn't really bask in her glory. That would be me. She's admitted to being almost a hermit or homebody, or whatever you would like to call it.

Valerie L Smith said...

I pick J.K. Rowling. Not because of her millions, but because of the reach she has with kids and adults, as well as the respect given to her by writing and reading communities. I also like how she started--a poor nobody with an idea, trying to support her family. The true rags-to-riches story.

Jil said...

I'll take Rowling's career, and benefits, so far, added to my own life with the opportunity to continue writing what I want knowing it will be published.

Other Jen said...

Dennis Lehane. It's not in my genre but you gotta love the odds of having you work translated by l Scorcese!

And maybe rub elbows with Leo? Bonus!

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