What would you want to be remembered for, if you had a choice? If you’re artistic at all, chances are you want your creations to live on after you, physically or in memory. If you make the distinction, would you want it to be your ‘serious’ work or the commercial output that pays the bills (or gives you pocket-money treats, depending how successful you are)? Would you rather the product of your frivolous youth was lost to the ravages of time, or do you think your best work is years behind you?
A while ago I wrote a story starting with Herman Sligo was a bit actor who played Uncle Emil in three episodes of the popular television series The Five Sisters. He died peacefully on November 8th and is survived by his younger sister from The First Line, which ended up being about an old lady’s sadness that her brother’s obituary focused on what was essentially a part-time job in his youth, rather than the community work he’d dedicated most of his life to. Outside of that community, the only reason anyone had heard his name was through television, since that literally made him visible to the wider world. If a genre author is known outside of their particular literary community, it’s usually for something that wouldn’t be considered their best or most representative work, but it might be the one that the wider population has heard of. In a similar way, bands or singers end up being remembered in general for the thing that most people will have heard, the commercial success.
As far as writing goes, I’m not sure what I’d prefer people to notice. If I had to be pigeonholed (which I’d rather not be, but it does happen) I’d rather be a spec-fic pigeon than a literary one. If nothing else, I like the sound of it.