Shunning the Spotlight

A week ago, revered author J.D. Salinger died at the age of 91. Salinger’s passing brought his life and work back into the public spotlight, which was a place he worked hard to avoid for most of his life. Known as much for his reclusive nature as for his most famous novel, “The Catcher in the Rye,” Salinger once wrote: “It is my rather subversive opinion that a writer’s feelings of anonymity-obscurity are the second most valuable property on loan to him during his working years.”

Coincidentally, this week also saw the public reemergence of another spotlight-shunning writer/artist. Bill Watterson, creator of the Calvin and Hobbes comic strip, gave an interview to the Cleveland Plain Dealer newspaper, thought to be the first he’s given since 1989. Watterson ended his work on Calvin and Hobbes in 1995, and since then has resisted pressure from his fans to revive the beloved comic strip. In the interview, Watterson seems incredibly down-to-earth about his success, and unwilling to remain stuck in the glory days of the past.

I don’t know the whole story behind why these men choose/chose to guard their privacy so fiercely. But these days, when the pursuit of fame for its own sake has become so widespread, I find it really refreshing to be reminded that there are creative people out there who are more interested in their work than in basking in the public spotlight.

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2 Responses to “Shunning the Spotlight”

  1. Cat Jahnke said:

    It’s unfortunate that many creative people base an opinion of their own success/relevance on whatever level of fame they have achieved. Several years ago I was given a great piece of advice by a friend who is also a musician. He said that it’s important to remember that no matter one’s expectations or disappointments, if you continue to sing or write or paint then you are in fact a musician or poet or artist, and it can not be disputed.

  2. spectatrix said:


    That’s great advice! 🙂