"Would you rather have fame or fortune?"
I'm assuming that "as a writer" is understood, and that changes everything.
For one thing, the most famous writer in the world isn't all that famous anyway. J.K. Rowling can still sit typing in the café in Edinburgh undisturbed. Really. I've seen her there. Of course, she does it with some kind of magical facial expression. If she could bottle and sell that "don't even think about it" look she'd be a rich wo- Oh.
And even if a famous writer gets recognised and mobbed by fans, they're book fans. They're readers. They're not natural mobbers. I'm trying to imagine a crowd of readers screaming and fainting and snatching the clothes off the back of . . . Stephen King. But I'm failing.
I got a bit flummoxed when I first met Mary Higgins Clark, but all that happened was I stepped back in case she thought I was standing too close and I tripped over the tripod stand that the "Mary Higgins Clark" poster was propped up on. It made a clatter but no security was involved.
So, all in all, I think extreme fame for a writer isn't enough actual fame to spawn a monster. I'm going to Harrogate today and I'll be seeing Simon Brett, who has just been awarded an OBE and a diamond dagger and is having a special reception thrown for him. If he expects me to curtsy and/or is now travelling with a personal grape-peeler, I'll edit this blog to reflect it.
How about fortune?
We hear a lot about people whose lives are ruined by lottery wins but, again, I think it's different for writers. I don't know anyone who does it for the money and I don't know anyone who would stop doing it if they suddenly had a wet ton of money. And money wouldn't really help with any bit of the core of what being a writer is. It wouldn't bring ideas, or a publishing deal, or a sympathetic editor, or readers, or good reviews, or an extension on the next hand-in date.
Of course, a huge steaming heap of filthy lucre would bring some incidentals: a hired publicist, a PA, freedom from a day-job, research trips with leg-room on the plane and a posh hotel room . . . but those things don't bring ideas or readers either.
So I'm going for secret option C. I'd rather have writing. If that's guaranteed I'll take the lie-flat plane seat and PA, please. (But I want to keep going to the Post Office myself because I like the people who work there and I'd miss them.) And then if I had to accept being so famous that klutzy fellow authors backed into tripods, I'd cope with that too,