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