If you were more talented/ambitious...

…what famous person would your career resemble?

That is, if you take the tastes and interests and tendencies you have, and add to them the drive/talent/hard work/ambition/luck/whatever necessary to make it to the top of some field whose practitioners achieve some level of fame, what real person who is a success in that field do you believe your work would resemble?
For me, it’s fantasy author Brandon Sanderson. His strength as a writer (imho) is thinking of interesting premises for worlds, and for the plots in those worlds. His prose is perfectly readable, but not in any way literarily fancy. The thing he does better than just about anyone else is make sure that he thinks a LOT about all the implications of the rules he’s created. You can particularly see this in the final book of A Wheel of Time which he wrote after Robert Jordan’s death. (spoilers follow). WoT magic featured something called “gateways” which were doors in space that opened up allowing you to travel from one place to another just by walking through them. It was specifically mentioned that their edges were magically super-sharp and they were very dangerous. Robert Jordan left it at that. But there are all sorts of obvious questions… can you use them as weapons? Can you make really tiny ones that basically work as x-acto knives while making tools? Can you make a horizontal one way up in the air and look down through it for surveillance purposes? Etc. Etc. I absolutely LOVE it when I think a fantasy author has really thought through that kind of thing, which is rarely done, and which (were I for some reason a published fantasy author) I would totally do.

Also, he loves playing Magic: The Gathering.

On the other hand, he’s a Mormon, which I am most definitely not…

What about you all?

(This could arguably go in Cafe Society, but I don’t intend responses to be restricted to artists of various sorts. Politicians or Athletes or whoever are fair game.)

Michael Jackson. (The beer aficionado, not the dead pedophile)

Do they have to be still living? And do we pick only one?

Do whatever you want, this is just for fun. Although some commentary is more interesting than just a list of names.

If I had played my cards right from day one, I think I would have had a chance at being an astronaut. But my dream was to walk on the moon, not be in LEO. But maybe LEO might have been enough. Then again, the effort you have to expend to have a chance is pretty intense…so if you do it and fail it kinda sucks. But with my luck some old fart in the future that is MY age will be on the moon for some reason and I’ll be really pissed with myself then.

The whole thing is bad enough I have to avoid most astronaut stories these days. :frowning:

Interesting question. I’ll go with** Bernie Taupin**. I can’t write a lick of music, but I truly believe I could spit out lyrics with the best of them if I had a few missing key components (such as ambition/the drive to succeed, the right partner, a solid work ethic, and a ton of luck).

John Coltrane. I loved band in high school, but didn’t take sax as seriously as I could have. If I’d applied myself, I could have taken much better advantage of my natural musical ability.

If I was more talented and ambitious, I would have liked to have been Robert Louis Stevenson.

I was read his “Child’s Garden of Verses” before bed when I was 3 or 4 and I still live his poem, ‘To Any Reader’.

If anything that I’ve written ever came close, I would have been quite happy.

Interesting that this question should come up now. A few days ago I found this TED talk:


“How I made an Impossible Film” by Martin Villeneuve. As I posted at the time:

I dunno. I still haven’t figured out what I want to do when I grow up. I guess that would either make me a waiter or an actor. So, I’ll say Kathy Bates.

Any day now, someone’s going to refer to my art, not as “oh, look, cute doodles with captions”, but as "Thurberesque".

I’ve occasionally thought my writing style was a bit like that of David Foster Wallace; somewhat rambling and digressive. Should anyone else make the comparison, I’d be highly flattered to even approach his talent. I don’t wish to go down the exact same road he did, though.

If I’d gone into music, I’d have been thrilled to have the a fraction of the career of Mark Knopfler.

My favorite painter, Gustav Klimt. I have always loved his work, but seeing much of it “live” in Vienna, just blew me away.

He’s one of the few artists whose work I love more than my own.

If I was more everything I’d like to be a centrifical spin-off of:

Tennessee Williams/Oscar Wilde
Adele/Cee Lo Green
Andrew Wythe/the guy who drew Calvin & Hobbs

I want to be serious but I just can’t.

Neil Gaiman.

SF/Fantasy/Horror comics, prose, TV and film, full of obscure literary and mythological references (but not with the pretension of Alan Moore or the insanity of Grant Morrison) and a slightly goth tone.

Definitely what I’d do if I could.

Dammit! You took mine.


I mess around with some short stories purely for my own amusement. Outside of some composition and basic writing courses in college, I’ve never done anything to pursue it, but if I could rewind, I think I would.

I admire his story telling, his incredibly creative mind and his sense of just having a blast doing what he does.

Plus, he’s a cat guy.

(Wow, Neil’s gone already…)
Terry Pratchett. My daughter has pointed out that my sense of humor and his are practically the same.

Isaac Asimov, only with more travelling and less sideburns.

William Foster.

I would have been doing a Marie Curie, although with a focus on theoretical chemistry (which counts among its advantages with that of not needing lead gloves). What I wanted to work on if I’d finished my PhD and gone on to academic research was “full glass” simulations of anabolic pathways of medications (that is, simulating how a medication interacts with different receptors, what it degrades into, and how do the products of that degradation interact with different receptors); the study of medications’ mechanisms was so much in its infancy that there was pretty much nothing to use as a check, but I think I would have been able to find me some teams of biochemists and pharmacists interested in playing “your tubes, my computer”.