Have you dreamt of becoming famous? What would your claim to fame be? Comedy? Acting? Writing? Race car driving? Go!

Yes, I’d like to be famous — or even just known, even if only in one specific area. As I’ve mentioned before, I am a writer, and I’d love to author a children’s book. I’ve had a good deal of experience writing factual articles, but am finding fiction (which is what I originally wanted to do) far more difficult. I’m not sure I’m a fiction writer, but starting anything new is hard. So I’m not giving up yet — it’s just a different way of thinking. It may be that I end up doing historical fiction (I have a BA in history). That might be more my cup of tea. I’m determined, though, I suspect I’m at the point where I have to make a choice and forge ahead.

In a few weeks I going down to Richmond, VA, where they have a great Historical Society with many original documents, and I’m hoping to look at some diaries. I think reading what people actually wrote, how they thought and felt, could provide some interesting information for character formation. We’ll see what I discover — I don’t even know what I’m looking for yet, but perhaps I’ll know it when I see it. So much happened in Richmond during the Civil War. The story of the Fall of Richmond is quite dramatic, too, and I find it ironic that the first unit of Union soldiers to enter Richmond was Black. (I also get to visit my daughter who lives in Richmond; she’s quite a good writer, too, and much better at fiction.)

I think everyone wishes for fame of some sort — it’s like a form of immortality. Even writers and philosophers who lived over 2000 years ago live on because of their writings; people probably feel like they know Jane Austen or Charles Dickens through their novels. Even cave paintings leave a story of how men lived thousands and thousands of years ago, telling their stories after their passing. Who doesn’t know versions of the tortured life of Vincent Van Gogh, making his story as great as his paintings. Michelangelo completed the Sistine Chapel ceiling 502 years ago, and we can empathize with the difficult work he had to complete high on scaffolding, often laying on his back. Yet to see the 343 characters painted on the ceiling as a new and exciting view for visitors every day, make the artist as alive today as he was over half a millennium ago.

Most of us, including me, will probably not achieve lasting fame. I don’t expect it, even if I do have some success in my writing. I will be content to have been loved by my family and to have influenced them positively. As writer and speaker Denis Waitley said, “A life lived with integrity — even if it lacks the trappings of fame and fortune is a shining star in whose light others may follow in the years to come.”