For as long as I can remember, people have asked me, “what is it like to have a famous father?”
Of course, it’s only ever people at conventions, or in my rural town, as my dad is what I like to call “Little League Famous.” This just means he is only well-known within certain communities, and not A-list celebrity famous.
Still, it’s some kind of fame, and that comes with pros and cons. Mostly pros.
What does that look like for me, though?
It looks like strangers telling me they’ve seen me grow up on the internet, in pictures my dad posts of me.
It looks like the kids in my junior high class talking about my dad’s books in our school library.
It looks like getting special treatment at cons because my dad is the guest of honor or has just won the Hugo.
It looks like getting to meet the coolest fucking nerds around.
It looks like me getting to be on stage performing alongside those cool celebrity nerds, on a boat in the Caribbean, even though I’m not a performer, even though I’m not one of them.
It looks like me worrying “how I can ever measure up?”
It looks like me wanting so badly to follow in my father’s footsteps, but thinking I’ll never be as good.
It looks like imposter syndrome.
And for as long as I can remember, I have wanted to do what my father does. I want to write. I want my books to fly off the shelves, my words to enter the hearts and minds of all those who read my work, and for people to be moved by the stories I have to tell.
But what if the torch is too heavy to carry? Can I really be a great writer like my father, or will I just get pity-published and never sell more than a few copies?
I mentioned this kind of thing before, in my post “The Anxiety of a Non-Writer Surrounded By Writers“, but that mainly talked about how I can’t seem to finish any of my writing. Which is still true. But now what plagues me more than writer’s block, is the fear that if I do manage to finish something, it won’t be good. It’ll never be as good as what my dad has put out.
It’s a weird mindset to have, because I’m not trying to compete with my father. I don’t really want to be better than him. I don’t want to sell more, or win more awards than him. So why do I have this fear that if I do end up finally publishing a novel, it’ll never measure up to all the amazing writing he has out?
I just want to be good enough, and I don’t feel like I ever will be.
And that is not at all my father’s fault. Or anyone’s, other than my own. My own insecurities. My own voice in my head telling me not to try, that I can never be like him. My dad has never made me feel that way, though. In fact, he’s the most supportive person to me in terms of my writing. I mean, he lets me write on this blog, he tells me I should submit work to magazines, and gives me writing advice all the time.
I know he believes in me, which makes it all the scarier to think of failing.
I am so proud of my dad, for all he has accomplished. All the work he’s put out, all the people he’s made laugh (or cry), all the book deals, tours, awards, all the support he gives his family, there’s so much to be proud over. And I want to give him a reason to be proud of me, too. To have my own book deals, my own tours, my own awards.
Aside from just wanting to make my dad proud, I do genuinely want to be famous, even if it is Little League Famous. The feeling of being adored, the feeling of being seen, is addicting. Getting recognized is addicting. Some people might think it’s weird, but I like when people know who I am at cons, when people stop me to ask “are you Athena Scalzi?”. Hell, I was elated when the guy helping me at Mattress Firm noticed my last name and asked if I was related to the author.
It feels… nice. It makes me feel like I matter. Or maybe it makes me feel like I’m well-liked, which is what I desperately try to be. I want people to like me, to support me, to care about me. I mean, who the heck doesn’t want that in their life?
Is it wrong to want to be famous? Doesn’t every youngster dream of being a world famous popstar or an actor on the big screen? Bruno Mars sang about wanting to be a billionaire, seeing a different city every night, standing next to Oprah and the queen. And you know who totally rocked that idea before him? Nickelback. Yeah, that’s right, I’m bringing Nickelback into this post and there’s not a damn thing you can do about it.
So, maybe it’s selfish or cliché to want to be famous, but I want it so badly. I want to have book deals, and tour the world, and be the guest of honor at conventions, and have signing lines. It’s all I’ve ever dreamed of. I don’t just want to be famous. I want to be great. But for now, I am just adjacent to so much greatness. Not just my father, but all of the amazing, accomplished, talented people I’ve had the honor of meeting.
I want to earn my place on that stage, not just be put up there because my father let me take his spot. I want to earn that VIP treatment, not just be the tagalong kid I’ve always been. I want to be successful, not just living off someone else’s success.
I am so grateful to all of you that read my posts, follow me on Twitter, and just honestly make me feel valued. Your readership means the world to me, and I hope that I have been at least somewhat enjoyable to read. I want to connect with you. I want to convey my thoughts to you, in a way that makes you feel something, and I’m so appreciative that you’re willing to listen.
I hope someday soon you’ll be able see me become this great person I want to be. For now, though, I will remain adjacent.