I've recently been thinking a lot about writing, and why I do it. I found myself returning to the columns I wrote in 2009 for the Literature Network. I still agreed with most of the things I had written, but was most interested in the post How many readers do you need?. This argued that people should aim at a small, realistic level of 'fame' rather than all-or-nothing success. As the writer Douglas Coupland put it, "there is a lot to be said for having a small, manageable dream". It's easier to build larger dreams on the foundations of simpler ones.
I drew on an essay by Momus, Pop Stars? Nein Danke, which claimed that in the future "everyone will be famous for fifteen people". Danny O'Brien explored similar issues in How many people do you need to be famous for?
I concluded my piece by saying "There's nothing wrong with being famous for fifteen people. JK Rowling was once less famous that that. Finding those 15 true fans is the first step towards millions of true fans, and is far better than none." Re-reading the essay over a year later, I find the ideas as interesting as I did when I wrote it. But I also find myself wondering: what constitutes a fan? How would this differ from, say, a friend who reads your work?If you want to follow what I'm up to, sign up to my mailing list