I don’t want to achieve immortality through my work….I want to achieve it through not dying.
The New Yorker had an article by Lauren Collins about the rare book room in the main branch of the New York Public Library. In Thoreau’s A Week on the Concord and Merrimack Rivers, Jack Kerouac had underlined this sentence: “The traveler must be born again on the road.” I guess you can never tell where you’ll find a good title.
The moment you make the first keystroke on your book, you are on the road to being born again. Transforming an idea into a book transforms the idea. It’s black-and-white magic: creating something out of nothing but your knowledge, craft, and imagination.
When you or your publisher publishes your book, you are born again on the road to literary immortality as an author. It’s been said that people only die when they’re forgotten. As long as people read your book, you live as an author. Books are an endearing, empowering, inspiring form of immortality.
Taking the World by Surprise
Unexpected phenomena like the roads taken by J.K. Rowling, Stephenie Meyer, and Stieg Larsson are surprising. But roads most successful authors take start as narrow paths and broaden as their careers develop. They continue to write books that attract a growing number of readers.
If that’s the road you’re drawn to follow, stay on it. If not, there are many kinds of writing, paths to success, and ways to succeed as an author. So pick the path that best suits you and what you’re passionate about writing.
Three Prompts to Help You Decide
Capture the essence of your life in one line: write your epitaph.
Summarize the life you’d like people to read about: write your obituary.
List the trade-offs on your road: the good news and the bad news. One list will be longer, one stronger.
You’re welcome to share your responses with readers if you wish.
May all your keystrokes be rewarding!