How My 15 Minutes Of Fame Didn’t Help My Writing (And Lessons Learned From ‘Being Famous’)

Man in leather jacket and beard raising his hands

I remember back in 2019 when I was drafting my debut novel Tinhead City, KL, and I had this brief thought of how cool it would be to be featured on my local radio station (Business FM).

I knew that the radio station had a ton of shows on literature and the local arts scene, and it was a passing fancy to one day be interviewed for my book.

Pretty ambitious, if you ask me. I hadn’t even passed the 20,000-word mark yet.

But you know what? That dream would come true in 2021, and what it’d teach me isn’t the fact that interviews are so much worse when you’re on the receiving end of it (I used to be the one doing the interviewing), but that nobody really cares that you made the news.

And so I thought that for the final post of 2021, we could look back a bit at the year that was, and prepare for the year that will be.

So come, join me on this little humblebrag, if you will.

Realising my publishing dreams

“Are you terminally ill?”

That’s what my boss asked me the moment I handed in my resignation letter. He knew I was earning so much more than I’d ever had (and probably ever will), and that I was leaving a particularly cushy managerial role—all just to write a sci-fi novel.

We’re all terminally ill, I wanted to say. It’s this disease called life. But all I said instead was, “Uh, no.”

“Then why are you doing this?”

“I don’t know, it just feels like something I have to do.”

I wish I had a better reason to quit than ‘I had a calling’, but that’s all I could come up with. It was either that, or continue down the path of corporate nine-to-five. And you know what? I think I made the right choice.

Because sure, my career path is now unclear at best, and I’ll probably never find a comparable gig ever again, but I became a traditionally-published author, and that alone made it all worth it.

Lesson learned: Always choose to pursue your life’s dreams when given the opportunity. Or, at the very least, pick the option that’ll give you a cool story.

Cover of Stuart Danker's debut novel Tinhead City, KL

The result of venturing into the unknown.

Hey, I’m famous! I think.

One of the benefits of traditional publishing is that I had someone to take care of things like editing, design, and marketing—the last one being the bane of my life.

So I was thankful for my publisher’s PR outreach, which helped me score my first interview with a local newspaper.

But besides the occasional WhatsApp message from long-lost friends, nothing else really changed for me. I was still this Malaysian writer without a real job.

Maybe I had always harboured a certain romance for being featured in the media. Even after interviewing and writing about so many personalities, I had taken for granted how small the footprint of a newspaper feature could be.

Then there was the second feature in Malaysia’s largest newspaper and I thought that would get me some traction. They even sent a photographer!

As it turned out, not many people care about some random dude having published a novel. Not unless you’re selling a million copies.

Lesson learned: Appearances in the media do not automatically mean book sales.

Stuart Danker in The Star newspaper Malaysia

Yours truly awkwardly trying to smile away the onlookers in this public photoshoot. Photo: The Star

Getting on the radio

Remember my radio dreams? A friend of mine who worked for BFM read the news pieces and actually made the dream happen. Talk about serendipity!

Sure, it was a little different than I had imagined (I had pictured myself in the studio instead of chatting through Zoom), but it was so surreal that my actual dream would come true.

But that, too, passed by in a blink. Wham, bam, thank you ma’am, and yet again, I had to be the one to announce my fifteen minutes of fame.

I was starting to see a pattern. Nobody really cared. I mean, I was stoked. But everybody else had their lives to live.

I’d always known that the publishing industry was far from sexy, so why was I surprised that after all that, I still couldn’t sell enough books to cover my advance?

Still, I was learning a very important decision. One that I’ll highlight in the sentence below.

Lesson learned: Sometimes, it’s the seemingly inconsequential actions that may change our entire lives. I’d garnered so much media exposure solely from my decision to write my first novel.

Being the man

But the kicker of 2021 for me has to be appearing as one of AugustMan‘s Men Of The Year. The reason? Because of my book.

If I were to ask you what you thought happened after that, you’d probably guess ‘nobody cared’, and you’d be right.

However, it was a super learning experience, and we’ve come full circle now that—after being a hairstylist and doing hair on set to writing about the interviewees—I was the one getting my hair done, having my photo taken, and being the one answering the ten questions.

Lesson learned: Life has the ability to surprise you, both for the good and bad.

Stuart Danker in Moschino red three-piece suit

Yeah I don’t think I’m made for photos. Photo: AugustMan

Which brings us to 2022

I now find myself at a similar crossroads as I did back in 2019. Again, I’m getting that call to pursue fiction once more.

As someone who’s nearing the fourth decade of his life, I assumed I’d have my shit together by now, but no. Here I am, once more, pursuing a dream that may or may not work out.

But I know what happens down the traditional path. I get a nine-to-five, work hard like the good employee I am, and forget about this weird siren’s call.

And while nobody else cares what comes out of this, or where I get featured on next, I’ve realised that I do. And you know what? That’s more than reason enough to venture out into the unknown.

Lesson learned: None. Just thought I’d wish you guys a Happy New Year and may all your dreams for 2022 come true.

Usher in your 2022 by joining the community. Any content you receive in your inbox will not be put on up this blog.

99 thoughts on “How My 15 Minutes Of Fame Didn’t Help My Writing (And Lessons Learned From ‘Being Famous’)

  1. I appreciated reading this, Stuart. At least you started chasing the dream at a much younger than me. I just turned 63, retiring about five years ago. Even though I’m an old fart, I believe in following one’s passions. This whole writing gig is relatively new to me, but we’re in a good spot financially, and hey, retirement is about trying new things. Good luck, brother!


    • That’s pretty cool of you to chase your passions regardless. I mean, that’s the only thing worth doing in life, isn’t it? To realise what we want (especially the ones we think are barely possible)?

      Thanks so much for sharing your journey Pete, and it seems that writing is definitely up your alley! Also, thanks for stopping by!


  2. Wow, I love your untraditional path… keep it up looking so swanky and kudos to you a book too..
    You’re famous to me and that means nothing since I’m only famous in my own mind … but hey we need to stick together. 💖🤣🤣👏👏👏


    • Oh yeah, what’s most important is how we see ourselves, as cliche as that sounds, and I’m definitely a superstar in my mind. I just wish other people will get on board with that thought too, so I appreciate you being one of the first, lol!


    • To be fair though, getting published was the only thing that happened. Everything else has stalled, such as my savings account or my career path.

      But I still wouldn’t trade it for the world! Lol. Thanks so much for your lovely wishes, and for stopping by!


  3. Stuart, thank you for the delightful post. I have a hunch that if you went back in the history of most people in the arts, that a courageous decision like the one ou made often marks the start of a fulfilling career.


  4. Wow you had an amazing year in 2021 and here is wishing you many more amazing and prosperous years ahead. Kudos to following your dreams and take a leap of faith. Now that you have become a traditionally-published writer, it makes a good call. It is interesting to know that you wrote your manuscript completely in longhand. Happy 2022 Stuart !!


    • Didn’t feel like much during 2021 itself, but looking back does give me the feeling that I did indeed achieve something.

      2022 looks to be even more unpredictable, so yeah, here’s to hoping I’ll make it a good one.

      Yup, it’s the only novel I wrote fully longhand, and I’ve since returned to digital writing because it’s much quicker. But it’s also the only manuscript that has been accepted for publication, so maybe I should return to pen and paper? Lol.

      Anyway, always glad to have you here. Thanks for visiting and happy 2022 to you too!


  5. Great write! I self-published all my books and knew but still had a fantasy about getting some sales and notoriety. Of course it didn’t happen. But in my mind I thought it would be different with traditional publishing. It was…you did get some exposure, but not the bump I would have thought. I guess it’s a lesson on expectations. I love that you made the jump and committed to writing in the first place. And it says something that your considering to do it over again. Writing is a calling for sure. Thanks for sharing.


    • Respect for self-publishing! I myself am planning to learn more about this industry, and am thinking of self-publishing too.

      Anyway, regardless of the path, I’m very certain that marketing plays a big role in it, which I’ll also have to improve in. More and more I’m learning that writing alone isn’t everything.

      Loved reading your thoughtful comment. Thanks for taking the time to post such a lovely one!

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Sounds like a whirlwind of a year – congrats on taking the leap to pursue your passion full-time! Really cool to see how it’s turned out. “Pick the option that’ll give you a cool story” is pretty great advice. Will be taking that into the new year, for sure.

    Been stalking (and enjoying) the blog, so I will need to check out your book, it seems!

    Happy new year and hope 2022 manages to be top the last!


    • I’m curious what’s going to happen now that I’m making the leap for the second time. I wonder if that’s bad for my career. But YOLO amirite?

      Thanks so much for visiting (or stalking) the blog! I really appreciate comments like yours and it really does add a pep to my day.

      And yes, Happy New Year to you too, and let’s make 2022 a great one, day by day!


      • Exciting though – you’ve got your foot in the door now, so hopefully, it’s a smoother ride this time around too. Worse comes to worst, like you said: at least you’ll have that cool story at the end. But I’m sure it’ll go well!

        Would be super interesting to hear how it goes the second time around and how it differs/what you do differently from the first. Looking forward to seeing if you plan on sharing that too!

        Liked by 1 person

    • Am still trying to find that balance, because my outlook on writing is that it’s not the best way get a reliable income for life. So here’s to finding our paths through our writing, eh? Take care and thanks so much for your lovely words, Angie!

      Liked by 1 person

  7. I had no idea you wrote and published a book, I have to read it now!
    I loved reading this post and you’re absolutely right, you caring is a good enough reason
    I’m slightly late but Happy New Year and all the best for 2022


    • Lol yeah, that just shows how terrible my marketing is. Will need to look into the entire supply chain in 2022 and not just focus on my writing. Thanks so much for your kind words, Belle. May the New Year bring you all that you’re aiming for!

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Saya tidak menyangka perjalanan dan pengalaman Mr. Stuart Danker memang luar biasa. Tidak heran saya bisa terpukau dengan tulisan Anda di blog. Latar belakang dan pengalaman benar-benar membentuk Anda menjadi pria sukses seperti sekarang.

    Maafkan saya yang menulis komentar dalam bahasa Indonesia. Saya sengaja karena Anda sangat bisa memahaminya haha. Maaf Teman. 😁


    • Haha, memang terbaik comment kamu ni. Saya pun minta maaf kerana membalas dalam Bahasa Malaysia (dengan beberapa perkataan Bahasa Indonesia). Walaupun beza, tapi saya pasti kamu akan faham.

      Sukses tu belum lagi sebenarnya (langsung takda duit), tapi saya akan coba mencapai atau membina kehidupan yang baik.

      Terima kasih kerana selalu mendukung blog post saya, dan saya sangat menghargai komentar kamu selalu!


      • Haha, saya mengerti sedikit banyak bahasa Malaysia, karena sebagian Sumatra adalah melayu juga. Punya akar dan rumpun yang sama.

        Sukses selalu saya doakan untuk Mr. Stuart yang baik hati ini. Tahun ini dan tahun-tahun berikutnya. ☺️

        Liked by 1 person

  9. Congratulations! It’s quite insane that I “know” a famous author.
    The pictures look really good Stuart!

    I need to get my hands on your book! You’re an amazing writer.

    Happy New Year Stuart! Have an epic 2022 and start working on that book!


  10. Alamak! I nearly missed this!! Hey Happy New Year to you too Stu! Yes you’ve had such an exciting 2021 I simply can’t wait for what 2022 will bring to you. More insightful posts for sure that newbies like me can learn from. Definitely lookin forward to that. Take care bro and once more, happy 2022!!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Not surprised, as it’s a hectic time with all the celebrations and planning and such. Thanks for being such an awesome presence here for the entire 2021, Kelvin, and here’s to seeing what 2022 brings. Happy New Year to you too!

      Liked by 1 person

  11. Working for life goals is a good thing, and the funny thing is, people tell you to follow your dreams, but then go braindead from sheer confusion when the dream doesn’t involve a cubicle at some Fortune 500 company.

    By the way, rocking that suit. I’m more of a gray person, but the colors work well on you. ;)

    And May 2022 bring you more blessings.


    • Lol, I’m actually just a black tee guy, and I had no say in what I could wear. Was feeling self-conscious that’s for sure. Glad it looked okay from your end!

      And yes, it’s weird, isn’t it? Today we have people who are happy pursuing their dreams of collecting Pokemon cards, live streaming the games they’re playing, and even climbing mountains without a rope—yet most people still see ambition as something that involves the corporate lifestyle.

      Thanks once again for stopping by, and a great 2022 to you too!


  12. I think you are more photogenic than you give yourself credit for (although I completely get where you are coming from because I hate having my picture taken). I really respect your decision to leave a managerial role to write a novel. Hope that you continue finding success in 2022! 😁

    Liked by 1 person

    • Aww thanks so much, Matt! Yeah, leaving that job did result in a published novel, but to be honest, that didn’t change my life too much (especially in the ‘earning a living’ department).

      Which is why I’m surprising myself by doing the same thing once more for 2022. Anyway, I appreciate you stopping by!

      Liked by 1 person

  13. This is a wonderful article. My first writing for someone else came in my early twenties working in the men’s department for our local clothing store. They needed someone to write ad copy. It was my spark. It also taught me to love synonyms. The Thesaurus is my ride or die.


    • Speaking of thesauruses, I’m so grateful for the things we have at our fingertips these days. Imagine needing a physical thesaurus or worse, having to manually look up facts in the library instead of Google.

      It’s so cool how you got started. I myself did ask around if I could write during my hairdressing days. Of course, I was asking the wrong crowd, but I do remember that as my spark. Love your comment. Thanks so much for sharing!

      Liked by 1 person

  14. Wow thank you so much for this. I find myself hesitant oh and procrastinating more often than none because I’m scared of what may or may not happen. I know what I have to do but for some reason I just can’t take that leap. Now having read this, I have more confidence than I did before! Happy New Year!


    • I still have major problems with procrastination, so I totally get where you’re coming from. It’s a constant battle for me, and once I slack off too much on any given day, it just sucks playing catch up, then the day goes to waste. Anyway, thanks so much for sharing your perspectives! I appreciate it. And Happy New Year!

      Liked by 1 person

  15. Aw! I care! We care! But you’re kind of on to something… On a very small scale I can totally relate to this bc my heart wants to explode and scream on the peak of the highest mountain that I’ve finally broken down this wall that kept me from writing (in my own genuine voice) all these years and I’ve managed to do it consistently for over a year… But then again, no one else cares or understands how much work and grit that took!

    Congrats on all of your successes! I know 2022 will bring even more! You keep tooting that horn of yours!! Happy new year! 🎉🎊❤️


    • Feels good to read comments like yours :)

      I’ll take any little encouragement I can get, because like you said, sometimes the grit doesn’t match the results we expected from the effort.

      But I always tout judging ourselves by the seeds we sow and not the harvest we reap, so I guess I should practise what I preach, eh? Thanks so much for your wonderful support!

      Liked by 1 person

  16. I love: ‘Lesson learned: none.’ That’s funny, because to me, anyway, sometimes just having the guts to try something that makes hardly any sense is worth the risk, lesson or not. Congrats on getting in the paper and on the radio! That’s really cool. I also like the idea of a traditional publisher. Self publishing always trips me up with all the format rules and such. I don’t know how to do any of that. I just want to write! Ha ha! Happy New Year!


  17. Realising my publishing dreams….are you terminally ill? Hahahaha I almost fell over in the train last night…but didn’t…and continued reading….my dream is to write about my 3 peas in a pod (my 3 grown up sons and their childhood antics and parenting woes and wows) when I retire from my nine to fiver …I never had the guts to leave my job and admire your courage….anyways keeping my writing chops warm with my blogging practise is a safer less adventurous slow boat to achieving my dream….thanks for this delightfully funny (as always) post and great tips! Happy New Year!


    • Actually I probably should’ve put a disclaimer saying that I only did what I did because my unique circumstances allowed me to.

      You, on the other hand, are being a responsible parent by making sure you have a source of livelihood, and that itself is something I might not even have the courage—or ability—to do.

      But however we do it, the goal is to get to where we want to, so here’s to finding our own paths towards our dreams.

      Thanks so much for stopping by as always, Jeanne, and Happy New Year to you too!


  18. As someone who is closer to 50 than 40, I can attest to still not having my shit even close to together, nor am I close to brave enough to quit my job to pursue writing. I have a ton of respect for you on that front and for rocking that phenomenal suit!!


    • It’s so cool to learn that the majority of us (if not all) don’t really know what we’re doing. It’s both scary and empowering at the same time. Thanks so much for your kind words, and for mentioning the Lady-Gaga-meatlike-suit!

      Liked by 1 person

  19. Mmm.. it’s the little boosts that matter most in the end, and the really fulfilling part of it is that, though you may not know, your works might have touched someone else’s life and shaped their dreams too… and that means you could be a rainbow in someone’s cloud as the Late Maya Angelou used to say. Ain’t that why we live, to have an impact on people’s lives, positively of course, through our ideas and stories. Here’s to 2022, a better day still to change people’s lives and fill your cup of legacy. It’s a real feat worth not demeaning that you got traditionally published, man! I just dream of it. 👏💖

    Liked by 2 people

    • Always love your thoughtful comments. And yeah, I’ve also been affected by many strangers’ writing growing up, and they will go through life not knowing how much they’ve changed my life. I guess that’s a good motivation as any to keep writing though, even though I may go through my life not knowing if I’m ever making a positive change. This was such a thought-provoking comment, so thanks for sharing, Lamittan!

      Liked by 1 person

  20. I like that although you’re getting more exposure (and well-deserved by the way), you’re still down-to-earth and humble. Your sincerity is why we and many others connect to you. Thanks for sharing your journey with us. However, I do have some bad news for you–I think you might be entering your fifth decade of life.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Wait, wat.

      Is this like a century thing where you have to say ‘twentieth century’ for the 1900s? I refuse to acknowledge fifth decade lol.

      Will also try to be as humble as I can but I can’t promise that for if I write a bestseller someday, lol x2.

      Anyway, always appreciate you stopping by. And like how I’ve come to look at people like Jim, JYP, and Kelvin, I have come to think of you as a friend now, even though we’ve all never met.

      Here’s to 2022!

      Liked by 1 person

  21. It always starts with a tug, a tiny whisper, a something that leads us down the path of writing. And it might not be glamorous, but it sure does something to the heart, making it fuller than ever. Thanks for taking that leap of faith and glad I stumbled on your blog this year! Congrats on all the moments of fame, small or otherwise, and cheers to 2022!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Oh yeah, and that tiny whisper is sometimes the voice we want to listen to, instead of the loud a boisterous one. You definitely described the exact thing I’m reacting to.

      Thanks so much for your kind words! Wishing you all the best for 2022 too, and may we continue to chase our dreams no matter how glamorous or not!

      Liked by 1 person

  22. Yeah that reality sucks but is very real. I’ve noticed that the only people that get excited when I achieve great things are me, myself and I… Continue on and be great in 2022. You owe it to yourself 😊
    PS the radio and newspaper features are pretty cool, though!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yet that’s still an amazing yardstick for our life journey, isn’t it? Sometimes we need to pursue what we truly want, and I’m only starting to learn what that means. Thanks so much for your support, and let’s rock 2022 together!


  23. Do any of us really have our shit together?

    And you’re right: nobody really cares unless you’ve sold a million copies, and even then the glamour fades when the next author that has done so comes along.

    As for getting more sales when appearing anywhere, it only works if people are interested in your genre. I was a speaker on a panel at a library conference a number of years ago, and my sales didn’t increase then either.

    You have to follow your dreams in my opinion; if you don’t then you wonder “what if”.

    Happy New Year Stuart, and congratulations for getting featured and interviewed! That in itself makes it worth it in my opinion; the extra sales are just a bonus.

    Liked by 1 person

    • The ‘what if’ thing kills me, and I think that’s exactly why I chose to pursue this path rather than the tried-and-tested 9-to-5. Because at the end of the day, I won’t be thinking about all the office work I’ve done when on my deathbed.

      But of course, I’m lucky because I get to do that in the first place.

      Happy New Year to you too, Diane, and here’s to pursuing what we want to matter what time it is!

      Liked by 1 person

  24. First, Congrats on all of those “minutes of fame”! Whether they affected sales or not, it’s great that you had those experiences and acknowledgements of your hard work!
    Yeah- spoiler alert. First impressions of that fourth decade indicate that it doesn’t seem to offer much more clarity. I’m beginning to suspect that my parents just faked knowing what to do all of the time… Here’s to pressing on and moving forward, even knowing that we don’t have all of the answers!
    I wish you all the best in 2022, and whether others notice your work or not, I hope that it ends up being a satisfying journey for you.

    Liked by 1 person

    • You hit the nail on the head there with the phrase ‘satisfying journey’.

      Easy or hard, long-term or short-term, I think we function best when we actually do what we WANT to, and there’s no greater satisfaction than to determine what it is we want to do and go ahead and do that.

      And it’s quite unnerving yet relieving to realise how nobody knows what they’re doing no matter how old they are.

      Love this comment. Thanks so much for taking the time!

      Liked by 1 person

  25. I admire your decision to pursue your passion, and for working hard to follow your dream. I agree that no one will care as much about your work as you do, but there are people who care and want to see you succeed. Count me as one of those. Best wishes for a happy and productive New Year!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Aww, it warms my heart to read this, Jim, to have the support of an internet stranger (though I’ve come to consider you a WordPress friend by now).

      Thanks for the reminder that there are people who care too, which leads me to think of this quote: “Every time you give up on your dreams, you insult those who believe in you.”

      What a great thing to read this morning. Thanks again!

      Liked by 1 person

  26. This is by far the most interesting post I’ve read all week. Thank you for sharing your stories, experience, and lessons, they were all fascinating to not only hear about, but also how you learnt from them too.
    I particularly resonate with how you quit to pursue writing more, as I agree that the option that’ll give you a cool story always sounds more appealing!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Oh yeah. I once hopped on a plane for a 1-month job in Myanmar without even seeing the contract beforehand. Things fell through, but you can be sure I milked the hell out of that story, lol.

      You’ve made my day by calling this an interesting post. I cannot thank you enough. I’m grateful that you stopped by!

      Liked by 1 person

  27. Hey Stuart, congrats on being famously anonymous. You got to do what you wanted to do, that’s the meaning of success. Public recognition, fame & fortune are just icing on the cake. Do you really want to be chased by paparazzi when you go out in public? (LOL) BTW did you use the AI to write any of this post? Just curious.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Lol I love your meta on this comment. I truly appreciate you connecting previous posts to it. I think you’re one of the few who actually do that. I appreciate your comment effort, and might actually take example that out of your playbook!

      And yes, it’s good not to be chased by paparazzi, so I have that as a silver lining :P

      Anyway, thanks once more for stopping by. I truly appreciate it!

      Liked by 2 people

    • Lol, yeah I think we as humans don’t really have a logic to our methods. We SHOULD get joy from doing what we love, but it doesn’t work that way sometimes, does it.

      But for things to be sustainable, I really DO need to focus on intrinsic motivation. Hopefully we’ll do that for 2022.

      Thanks so much for stopping by, Claire, and I love the effort you’ve put into your books!

      Liked by 1 person

  28. Good articles. You brought back memories. I had a radio station actually send a sound engineer to make sure my interview came out good. I didn’t see an uptick in sales. And then there was the Wall Street Journal interview that made my day for a week until it got cut.

    Sigh. That’s the way it is, right?

    Liked by 2 people

    • Lol yeah. I think that’s the challenge of the creative field. I’ve seen writer friends at an empty book signing event, and also stand-up comedian friends who performed for a crowd of two.

      Weirdly enough, if you love the craft enough, those things won’t seem as discouraging as they should be.

      Anyway, here’s to overcoming that in the coming years. Thanks so much for stopping by!


    • Oh yeah. I definitely try to err on the side of adventure, but of course, that comes with a chance of a stagnant career and starvation, lol. Thanks so much for your support, Suzanne. I really appreciate you always stopping by too!

      Liked by 1 person

I'd love to hear your thoughts!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s