Tuesday, 10 April 2012

I is for Immortality

"I" time in my A-Z series "26 Things that Made Me a Writer".

Fame! Who wants to live forever? Well, maybe not in the literal sense (I think I would have seen enough after the first thousand years) but in terms of creative pursuits, I think most of us would have to admit to wanting to be remembered long after we're six feet under. (And I think I'm going to have to work on my sentence structure if that's to be the case.)

I didn't necessarily go into writing with ambitions of this type, but it would definitely be a nice byproduct. Look at Jonathan Swift's Gulliver's Travels, for example, a timeless tale still familiar to countless children today even if they haven't actually read the book. While they may be frowned upon by some, adaptations like the recent Jack Black movie keep such classics going for further generations.

I think stories are the most timeless form of art. People, with their foibles, desires and sins, don't change much and this is why a well-told tale can still resonate hundreds, or thousands of years later. Architects, painters and musicians may also be remembered after death, but books have a unique effect on me which I've never gained from any building, painting or song (although music comes a close second).

How would you like to be remembered?


Sarah Tokeley said...

Someone once said they'd like to be remembered for writing one of those books that kids complain about having to study for decades to come. That would be kind of fun :-)

Unknown said...

Hey Sarah, guess what Grade 8 in Australia are studying now, with the new C2C curriculum (that just means Australia wide instead of State controlled - Coast to Coast??)introduced this year - "Twilight"

Sorry Nick, I just had to get that out - Fame, something to aspire to?

Kyra Lennon said...

Totally agree with Sarah on this one! It would be kinda funny to annoy kids in generations to come! :p

Lynda R Young as Elle Cardy said...

foibles... you said foibles. That's my favourite word so you get bonus points for using it ;)

Nick Wilford said...

Sarah - Well, since Harper Lee, John Steinbeck and Shakespeare fall into that category, I guess it wouldn't be so bad!

C.M. - Seriously?! Now the downfall of Western civilisation as we know it has surely begun. I've made my feelings on Twilight clear in the past (and yes, I HAVE read the first one and a half books - strugglingly). For such an exciting story, the writing is so flat. I shudder to think of it being taught in class!

I haven't seen the film (or the remake) actually - just wanted to use that line to open!

Kyra - Hopefully kids would love my stuff! But I know, there's something about being forced to read and study stuff, particularly at that age.

Lynda - I aim to please!

Tobi Summers said...

I agree. I'd love to leave a mark on someone the way To Kill a Mockingbird did on me. If my books inspired even one other person to read or write, I think that'd be pretty spectacular.

Ciara said...

I'd love to leave a mark as someone who did something for others. To change the world.

Kathy said...

Writing books is certainly a way to achieve immortality. Having children, who have more children...well you get the idea, is another way. I'm an amateur photographer and I try to tell the story of my life and family in photographs. Not the studio, posed kind, but the every day, shooting every day, kind.
I love how your blog is about things close to you. Nice to meet you! Visiting from the A to Z Challenge and a new follower.

Kathy at Oak Lawn Images

Anonymous said...

I got very angry with someone who assumed I wanted to be a writer because I wanted to be immortal. But perhaps now that mortality sems a little more real, there is a slight truth in that.

Liwi said...

I completely agree! I've thought about this topic quite a bit recently. I study literature so the sheer amazingness of reading Plato/Chaucer/Poe in 2012 strikes me frequently. The question what those writers would say if they knew about their own immortality will remain unanswered, but I think immortality is a motivation for many writers, whether they are conscious of that or not. The desire to leave your mark on the world is inherently human, be it through reproduction, interaction with others, or writing. Thinking about death can be so cruel, but thinking that a part of you will stay makes it more bearable.

Hektor Karl said...

I like the Woody Allen quote:

"I don't want to achieve immortality through my work... I want to achieve it through not dying."

Sherry Gloag said...

I can't say I've given this much thought, but having done so now, yes, I'd like to be remembered for my writing. :-)

Mimi said...

I would like to be remembered for being the rememberer. The one that linked the past to the future.

Mimi Torchia Boothby Watercolors

Suze said...

Story is memorable because it is memetic and because its cadence cycles at the same frequency as the brain's natural attention span.

I think, anyway. (Read with emphasis on think, not I.)

J.L. Campbell said...

Hi, Nick,
I think we'd all like to be remembered for something. I want to write such good stories that ages after, readers will still be thinking about how they were moved in some way.

Luanne G. Smith said...

Storytelling really is a form of immortality for some authors, isn't it? Stories like King Arthur and Beowulf just keep going and going...

Jo Schaffer said...

(= Stories are forever. I would love to remembered for what I write as well as the story of my life-- hopefully a good one about strength, integrity and kindness. (=

Oregon Gifts of Comfort and Joy said...

Hi Nick,

I am really enjoying what I see and read here! I am your newest follower and am putting you in my favorites area on my sidebar.

Thanks so much for stopping by to see me on A-Z, and best of luck throughout the challenge.

Kathy M.

Jess said...

Hey! Nice to meet you!

I agree. Books leave the biggest artistic mark on me. Even the first few paintings were used to tell stories, so maybe that's why.

I'd like to be remembered for writing something like Star Wars. Okay, big dreams I know. But for me, that story had a HUGE impact on the way I write.

Golden Eagle said...

I'd like to be remembered for impacting a scientific field or contributing (even on a minor scale) to a new discovery.

The Golden Eagle
The Eagle's Aerial Perspective

Jay Noel said...

Funny thing is, Gulliver's Travels wasn't intended for children!

I'd like to be remembered for being a nice guy to be around.

MOV said...


Great post! As for your question, I would like to be remembered as being a generous person: generous with time, money, love. That sounds good.


Nick Wilford said...

Tobi - TKAM was my favourite book to study in school.

Ciara - I don't know about changing the world, but maybe a few individuals!

Kathy - That's a really nice idea to document your life with photos. Something for future generations to look back on and hopefully carry on.

Melch - Yeah, it's not my sole reason for writing, but it would be nice to be remembered!

Liwi - Thanks for your eloquent comment. Yeah, it is a human instinct for sure - "conquering death".

Hektor - Yeah, that's a good one.

Sherry - Glad I gave you food for thought!

Mimi - That's an interesting way to look at it. Very deep!

Nick Wilford said...

Suze - Thanks! Attention span is all dependent on the quality of the story - hopefully the best endures.

J.L. - I feel the same. Downloaded your book so I'll be sure to leave a review!

L.G. - Yeah, they are iconic and far more famous than those who wrote them. I wouldn't mind that!

Jo - That would be nice but I'm not sure my life is interesting enough! I would like my children to remember me fondly, though.

Kathy - Thanks! I'm honoured. I really like your theme in the challenge.

Jess - Good point about the oldest paintings being in the form of stories. Star Wars is definitely a great example to aspire to!

Golden Eagle - Good luck with that! You clearly know your science going by your theme.

Jay - I know, it's seen as such an iconic children's story today.

MOV - Generous is certainly a good way to be remembered!

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Probably won't be through my books, but I want to be remembered as someone who made a difference.

Nick Wilford said...

Alex - You're certainly known throughout the blogosphere for your generous qualities!

Mina Burrows said...

That's a deep question. I'd loved to be remembered for my Children's books. And as far as my family, I'd be happy to love and be loved.

Nick Wilford said...

Mina - Good ambitions there!