I must admit that I don’t write simply because I love it. That’s certainly a large part of it, no doubt, but there’s more. I write because I don’t want to be irrelevant. Fifty years from now, a hundred years from now, a thousand years even, I want someone to pick up a story of mine and be touched by it. I want my name and work to linger long after my body and soul are gone. I wonder if most writers think the same way. I wonder if other writers care about having a legacy. I think about it all the time. I want to create something that will last until the planet crumbles. A modest request, I think. And even then, after planet Earth is gone, maybe one of my stories will float to Saturn and some curious alien who’s miraculously learned English will enjoy it.
One of my greatest fears is living my full life and not having anything to show for it. I want people to know I existed, that I wrote, that I was passionate, that I contributed something to this world aside from failed relationships and millions of pounds of waste. I fear irrelevancy like I fear Satanic Possession, ghosts, spiders, and Global Thermonuclear War. With me, it’s always been less about the money and more about leaving my mark.
But relevancy is different for everyone. For my mother, she’ll never feel irrelevant, because she gave birth to five children, and she believes that we’re her legacy. She released us into the world, and everything we contribute is, in essence, a contribution from her as well. I don’t have kids, but I do wonder if, when I do, my desire to be relevant through writing will lesson a bit. I guess I’ll have to knock somebody up and find out. For now, though, my legacy is in my words.
Does writing for the internet make someone relevant? There’s a wonderful immediacy to the ’net. I write an article or story, and feedback is almost instantaneous. Within minutes, sometimes seconds, of posting my writing on the web, comments start to flow. “You suck!” “Boring!” “Your post really hit home with me.” “Thank you for inspiring me.” “Is this what they call writing these days?” The internet provides a wonderful connection to the world, to everyone. But, a hundred years from now, will there even be an internet? Will this work we’re all sending into the cyberspace megaverse live on forever? I don’t know. It’s not tangible, so I don’t fully trust it. I fear a comet could pass by a little too close to the earth and cause some sort of electrical surge that will destroy all machines on the planet. It could happen. I swear. I’m sure I saw a movie about that once. Or maybe a black hole will collapse cyberspace into itself. I do love writing for the internet, but there’s nothing like holding a magazine or journal or book that contains my words.
Books…now there’s something I trust. Books are heavy, strong, sturdy, and will most likely long outlive humans. A book with my name on it will make me feel relevant. Sure, maybe books aren’t as convenient as some other forms of reading these days, but they will live on. Those trees will not die in vain. Just hope your glasses don’t break like poor Burgess Meredith’s after the Nuclear Holocaust in that old “Twilight Zone” episode.
Letters will live on. Real, hand-written letters: to your lover, your mistress, your wife, your mother, your best friend, your jerky boss. A stack of letters is romantic. A stack of hand-written letters shows you put real effort into something. I have saved every love letter I’ve ever received; I wonder how many of the love letters I’ve delivered have survived and how many were destroyed after a messy break-up. I know a few are still out there, in a shoebox maybe, or a dresser drawer, or under a voodoo doll.
I take great care with my text messages. I try to be proper. I try to be poetic. I think, “I only have a certain number of characters, I better make the most of it!” But why? Most text messages won’t survive; most will be deleted by the end of the month. I simply can’t help myself, but those texts will certainly not add to my relevancy for more than a few days, unless they end up in a court case.
I am always looking for immortality. How does one get to be immortal? Obviously, the body must wither and die, but the words, they could linger. But for how long? Forever, I hope. Is that asking too much?