e-mail and correspondence courses

Fame and Anonymity
by Anonymous

Long ago and far away, when I was performing in The Diary of Anne Frank, (a part with 12 lines) I turned to a fellow Thespian and said, "I want to be famous." He turned back to me in the backstage dimness and said, "No, you want to do something that will make you famous." A bright light went on. He had understood me.

Making a contribution and becoming famous for it often go together in this world. Making a contribution often puts you in the spotlight although the opposite doesn't always hold true. Of course one can take a pseudonym, or make anonymous contributions but often by the time you wonder whether to fade from the spotlight, you need your name to keep you going. And it's warm in the spotlight.

Writing gives me as well as other religious women the best of both worlds. I get to make a contribution and people know my name but very few of them know how to match it to my face. It's an anonymous kind of fame. A more modest kind than stage work. The only time people put the two together is on the phone. My anonymity gives me power. Or it used to.

Not too long ago I called a woman about finding me a shidduch (I'm a single mother). The unpleasantness involved in the whole thing intensified with the thought that me the writer witty, philosophical, inspiring (hopefully) will have her image tarnished by me the lovelorn, divorcee. "Stop it," I admonished myself. "How famous do you think you are? So a few people recognize your name, this woman has probably never heard of you."

I called the woman and we started talking. I gave her my name. "Oh, I know you, you just published a book," she said to me.

It turns out that along with her matchmaking, she edits a newsletter and my book was on a list she had just received.

Being anonymous has its spiritual work and being known has its. It seems now I have my good name to maintain. So when I'm speaking to someone I can't lose my temper, or be rude and impatient or not be nice, after all I must consider the ramifications. "You know that Rosally Saltsman, (Oops gave myself away) I spoke to her on the phone, she's so rude, she yelled at me and said…"

"Yes, I know." She wrote about in this week's Yated." (It's better to beat them to it)

Recently, I tried to get an interview with an actor. I really like this actor (a throwback to my days in the theatre and thought, "Hey I'm a journalist, why not
interview him?" Then an uneasy feeling crept up on me. How can I publish an interview with an actor if I write for the hareidi press?

Not that they'd know, but I figured, if they did, this would not go over well. I could publish the interview under an assumed name. No, that would be cheating. The dilemma was solved by my not getting the interview.

As writers, we not only reflect our impressions of the world on others but in order to maintain our credibility and influence, we also have to be aware of what we reflect of ourselves on the world. As the world gets smaller, (via technology) the responsibility for the impressions we make on it gets bigger. Oh well, it's a small price to pay for
fame. May our names and our bylines be a source of pride to the Publisher of our books of life and may we only be famous for our good deeds.


Copyright © 2009 by Jewish Writing Institute. All rights reserved.
Copyright to individual articles held by authors.