The Writer’s Legacy.

My Classic Bookshelf.
My Classic Bookshelf.

Recently, the world heard of the sad news that author Iain Banks has only months to live and this piece by author Val McDermid actually brought tears to my eyes. It wasn’t all that long ago that one of Australia’s favourite authors, Bryce Courtenay, died of cancer. It not only got me thinking on how short life really is, but also about the legacy we leave behind.

For writers our legacy is our writing; our books. Our stories can move people, get people talking, feel the need to read more of what we have to say, and perhaps even inspire them to tell their own stories. If we’re really lucky our stories will live on in film and on stage and even be talked about for generations to come. In a world where time is a valuable commodity; people are reading more than ever before. We may pass through this life only once, yet if done well, our stories can last a lifetime.

As I read some tweets written regarding Iain Banks, there was one other thing that struck me as part of a writer’s legacy and that was admiration by his fans. It wasn’t just his work they will always remember, but also actually meeting him. They considered themselves fortunate to have met their favourite author. Having had this social interaction will ensure his fans will remain with him long after he’s gone.

Interacting with our readers helps bring the author-reader relationship even closer. People remember those who are friendly and helpful towards others. It is believed that the way books sell more than any other is through word of mouth. Kristen Lamb fairly recently posted about the importance of writers building a rapport and community with their readers. In this selfish world, it is the little things such as common courtesy and politeness that people are remembered for. If we combine our efforts with producing good books, we can guarantee ourselves a loyal readership.

What do you hope will be your legacy? Are you making the most of your time? What steps are you taking towards building your community?

Image by Debbie Johansson.

6 thoughts on “The Writer’s Legacy.

  1. Good post! I haven’t really thought of it like this before, and I will have to ponder it awhile. That said, I am working on connecting with people and building community through my blog, Facebook, Twitter, etc at least I hope so. 🙂

    1. Debbie Johansson 07/05/2013 — 5:02 am

      Hi Jeannette. Cancer touched my family a couple of years ago which certainly put things into perspective for me; what we do with our lives and what we leave behind, which is what got me thinking about Iain Banks. We both seem to be building our community through the same social networks – we would have not met each other otherwise and I’m glad we did! Thanks for your comments. 🙂

      1. Thank you! And I’m glad as well! 🙂

  2. It’s so sad to hear about Iain Banks. Time is a precious commodity indeed. As a writer—I always have legacy on my mind. What will my legacy be? How will *this* story inspire or resonate with others? It’s important to think about legacy not only as a writer but as a human being. We can help make the world a better place by serving others before we think of ourselves. 😉

    1. Debbie Johansson 08/05/2013 — 9:12 am

      Hi Christy. I think it’s the people who put others above themselves that are remembered the most and there are a great many number of examples throughout history. I like how you focus your thoughts on others, both as a writer and as a human being. It’s a valuable asset and one that more people should work towards. Thanks for your comments. 🙂

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