Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Final Chapters

I have a library full of books by writers who are now dead. I look at titles by John D. MacDonald, Ross Thomas, and  Robert B. Parker, and regret that they're not around to give us new works. But I re-read their books and give thanks that these men left behind such a legacy.

I recently received a report that sales of my non-fiction book, The Tender Scar: Life After The Death Of A Spouse, were respectable in the past year, as they have been in the five years since its publication. My intent in writing it was to minister to people who had suffered the same loss I did, and I'm glad to see that ministry continue. I hope it will go on for a while longer, perhaps even after I'm gone. That would be a great legacy for a writer.

I have three novels in print, with a fourth due for publication this fall. They are Christian fiction, but the books don't hit the reader over the head with that message. Instead, my hope is that when the reader turns the last page, they think about the story they've just read and how it might apply to their life. If so, I've succeeded. And if these are my legacy in the world of fiction, I'll be pleased.

Writers, what sort of legacy do you want to leave? Readers, have writers who are now deceased touched you with their work? I'd love to know.

4 comments:

Timothy Fish said...

I would like to think that the work I leave behind is true to the faith, but I'm not particularly concerned with my writing legacy. After I'm dead, I don't think I will care.

Ramona Richards said...

While we won't care after we're gone, I think most writers care now about how our legacy will play because we've seen it in other works.

I can't help but think about Winifred Watson. She had two bestsellers in 1935 and 1936, one of which became a popular play. In 1937, her publisher bought a light, urban comedy from her, which was quickly translated into a number of languages. Universal bought the rights and developed it for Billie Burke.

Then came December 7, 1941. No movie. Universal renewed their rights in 1954 but still no movie. Ms. Watson wrote three more bestsellers then retired to focus on her family. She died in 2002 at 96.

Six years later, in 2008, Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day finally premiered, completely renewing Ms. Watson's legacy and making a whole new generation laugh.

Just as your nonfiction book will help people long after you're gone, we know our words can still entertain and inspire long after we're gone. So we do the best we can by striving to improve every sentence. Or at least I do.

Because my inspiration to write came not from my faith (that came later) but from Robin Kane and Trixie Belden. You never know who'll pick up one of your books years from now and think, "Oh, really?"

Richard Mabry said...

Timothy, I appreciate your comment. It's true that we'll be beyond ordinary cares in Heaven, but it's nice to think while we're still working in this world that we're sharing our faith with others and our work and our lives will continue to do so.

Ramona, thanks for sharing that story. It sort of puts things into perspective, doesn't it?
And my readers might be interested to note that you are my editor at Abingdon, which makes me appreciate even more your taking the time to read this blog and to comment. Thanks.

Richard Mabry said...

Timothy, I appreciate your comment. It's true that we'll be beyond ordinary cares in Heaven, but it's nice to think while we're still working in this world that we're sharing our faith with others and our work and our lives will continue to do so.

Ramona, thanks for sharing that story. It sort of puts things into perspective, doesn't it?
And my readers might be interested to note that you are my editor at Abingdon, which makes me appreciate even more your taking the time to read this blog and to comment. Thanks.