By now I’m sure everybody’s seen the nude Las Vegas photos of Prince Harry. My 20-year-old daughter was horrified (as she has planned on being Mrs. Prince Harry since she was about 13), and then severely disappointed that a person with such a public profile would so easily allow himself to become tabloid media fodder.
Granted, I’m not anywhere nearly as recognizable or as well-known as Prince Harry, or Justin Bieber or even Kim Kardashian. Still, I’ve become more and more aware in recent years that I might not be as invisible as I had thought.
Not too long ago, I was waiting for a dressing room at Anthropologie when a woman came up to me and asked if I was Karen White, the author. Thankfully, my hair was washed and I was wearing makeup and—even better—my daughter (who is barely aware that I do anything besides her laundry) was with me as a witness.
I was thrilled beyond belief. And a little appalled. Here’s a little known fact: writing is not a glamorous occupation. We aren’t paid to work out with personal trainers, nor do we have a staff of stylists on hand to make sure we always look red-carpet worthy. When I’m at home working, I look like a homeless woman: holey sweats, an old t-shirt, fluffy slippers, no makeup, and my hair in a blob on top of my head. I’m always afraid that the UPS man will call the authorities about the squatter he thinks is living in my house.
I’ve been recognized as “Karen White the Author” at a Boy Scout meeting, the grocery store, and nail salon, and once at the vets, I was asked to sign the back of a magazine.
So what does this have to do with Prince Harry? Well, it’s too bad he wasn’t raised by a Southern Mama. I was taught from the cradle that one always keeps a tube of lipstick handy and one always behaves in public because one never knows who’s looking. Or taking pictures. Yes, I might look like I belong on the cover of National Geographic when I’m at home working, but I have learned that I need to at least wear clothes and put on lipstick when crawling out of my writing cave. I also always keep in mind what I’ve taught my almost-adult children: never do anything you don’t want photographed and freely distributed in the cybersphere.
My young nephew recently asked me if I was famous. “Well, no,” I replied. I’m not sure at what point one become famous, but I’m pretty sure I’m not there. It probably involves more than being on the bestseller lists or being recognized at the local Kroger.
“How will you know?” he persisted. I’m not really sure, but I would bet it doesn’t require playing strip billiards or being photographed getting out of a limo without proper undergarments. I’d like to think that being famous means being on the top of my game, writing the best books that I can, and being recognized for being a writer who tells compelling stories about people readers care about.
I’m currently working on my summer 2013 book—my first hardcover release. After my last two novels made the top 20 of the New York Times bestseller list, my publisher determined that it was time. They will be putting a lot of effort into making it a successful release, and I’m busy making it the best book I’ve ever written. Will it make me famous like JK Rowling or Stephenie Meyer? Maybe. Maybe not.
Regardless, I’m pretty sure I won’t be having a $20 million wedding and then getting divorced a month or two later. No, I’ll probably just stick an extra tube of lipstick in my pocket and be prepared to be recognized in a few more places. And then I’ll get busy writing the next book. Because that’s what I do, regardless of how many people know who I am.