Thursday, May 13, 2010

Writing = Immortality?

If you would not be forgotten as soon as you are dead, either write things worth reading or do things worth writing. ~Benjamin Franklin (link)

Life isn't nearly long enough, is it? In the grand scheme of things, we're only here on this earth for a quick blip of time. This notion reminds me of a verse, James 4:14: What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. I happen to believe that we're immortal beings - that our spirits live on after we die. But what about here on this earth? Memories fade, and people sometimes seem to be forgotten as the generations pass.

It's human nature, to want to do something during our time on this earth to make sure we're not forgotten - to leave something behind, a legacy, our own little mark upon the world that says, "I was here." Some people take it to extremes, and seek fame. That's their way of gaining a bit of immortality on earth: Marilyn Monroe, Michael Jackson, Madonna - Seekers of Fame, names that will be known and remembered long after they're gone. Or, many people see their children as their immortality - a little genetic piece of themselves, staying behind, having more children of their own, continuing the cycle of life. Their own little piece of immortality on earth.

Another way we can gain "immortality" on this earth is by writing. Whether or not we ever get the privilege of having our work published, what we write is something we're leaving behind - for family members, for friends, for those who come after us. It's a little piece of our souls, a part of who we are. And I find that sort of beautiful.

Shakespeare himself wrote about this concept in the last 2 lines of his Sonnet 18. In it, he immortalizes his subject, just by writing the poem. He's virtually saying "even though you'll eventually die, your memory will still live on through this poem that I've written." And it does! Because, there I stand each semester at a lecturn, 400 years later, reading out these lines to students:

So long as men can breathe, or eyes can see
So long lives this (poem), and this gives life to thee.

Shakespeare's subject lives on, centuries later, through those words.

Writing is powerful. And yes, I do think it can offer a small piece of immortality here on earth...


  1. So true. Writing something worth being remembered for is a small piece of immortality. Like Austen, Wilde, Byron and the other greats. They live on in their words.
    Great post Traci. :)

  2. I agree! Thank you, Lindsay!

  3. I remember reading that sonnet in your class, but anyways i totally agree with that and thats one reason i LOVE to write. I put my heart into everything i write because i never now what might happen to it? but i know i wrote it and its out there. I think its just a writer thing, but i get exactly what you are saying!!!!

  4. Wonderful post! I agree that what we write, whether published or not, is our little bit of immortality. Journal writing can be beautiful too...a person's thoughts, feelings, reactions, likes/dislikes, dreams, heartaches.

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