Anyone who goes into travel writing in order to become rich or famous or feted is courting disappointment; anyone in search of huge inner wealth (and challenge and stimulation) should be richly rewarded. Pico Iyer, travel writer, novelist
I think Pico Iyer is probably richer than you and I. He says he doesn't travel anymore, spends lots of time in meditation, and doesn't care about having lots of cash, so it might be piling up around him. He is certainly more famous. And he's a writer. So what gives, Pico, with the advise do to something else if you want to be either rich or famous? Why do some people who have become rich and famous at something tell the rest of us not to think we'll get rich and famous doing what they are doing?
I'm considering writers as travelers and travelers as writers, as interchangeable persons here, from a philosophical viewpoint, though Iyer is specifically referring to people who write about traveling. And in that context, I think the point of Mr. Iyer's advise, as I understand he has, as do I, an affection for Buddhism, is why the hell would you want to be rich or famous anyway? Maybe his point is that to be rich is to be spoiled and to be famous is to lose the precious invisibility that is the writer/traveler's entre into the real world. To be rich and famous is to miss the purpose of life, which is to attain true understanding; that is to say, enlightenment.
So Iyer says to write out of love. It is the inner wealth that is important. I can understand that. Most writers make precious little money by way of their scribbling and equal amounts of fame. But if you are passionate about writing, and dedicated to it, and devoted, and love doing it very much, you are living the life you should be living regardless of your financial gains or ego rewards.
I embrace this philosophy. It's such a comfort, so reasonable and rational an approach. Still, I'm afraid I can't deny that at the first smell of possible financial gain and the announcement that the literary prize was mine and mine alone, not his, not hers, ha! how the blood is fired, how the heart smashes itself against the ribs, how the body swoons, and the skin erupts in goose bumps and the call to Mother is made immediately.
So, the lovely truth about writing seems to be this: If we write and write and write and fail to become rich and famous, we were still writing and so we were building up great inner wealth and were actually successful. If we write and write and write and indeed become famous and commensurately rich, we will have accomplished both material gains and inner riches. You can take them to the bank and then take the rest of the day off. I think I'll go and do that now.
Douglas Arvidson is a past winner of the WICE/Paris Transcontinental International Short Story competition. His short fiction has been published in Paris, Prague, and in literary magazines in the United States and he was recently invited to be a staff writer for the Prague Revue, a cutting-edge, online literary journal (http://bit.ly/1mMT6ZC). The novels in his fantasy series, The Eye of the Eye of Stallion, include The Face in Amber, The Mirrors of Castaway Time, and A Drop of Wizard's Blood. His new novel, Brothers of the Fire Star, was selected as a finalist in the ForeWord Reviews 2012 Book of the Year national awards and as a finalist in three categories in the 2013 New Mexico-Arizona Book Awards: Action Adventure Fiction, Historical Fiction, and Young Adult Fiction. It has become part of the pantheon of Pacific literature and is now included in school literature programs. Brothers of the Fire Star is an adventure story set in the Pacific during World War II and concerns two boys of different races and cultures who escape the island of Guam in a small sailboat when the Japanese army invades. They must then struggle to survive as they master the secrets of the ancient Pacific navigators. Appropriate for young adults as well as adult readers, Brothers of the Fire Star is available on Barnes & Noble, Amazon.com (http://amzn.to/1j3axVk) and Crossquarter.com. Visit the author's website: douglasarvidson.com