Why We Write: To Leave a Legacy

Everything we do leaves an imprint in the universe.  Every statement and action, breath and thought come together and impact the world.  We write to make this impact, to change things and leave a lasting imprint for generations to come.  Creating a legacy is a divine purpose and operates in a dichotomy of forward and backwards movement.

Let me explain.

One night I was sitting in the dining room at Ender’s Island Retreat next to Da Chen.  Chen is an author, artist, lawyer by education, musician, and all-around awesome guy.  He asked me what my thesis novel was about.  I proceeded on this lengthy explanation of plot and characters, running through the story as he watched and listened.  I finally stopped and took a breath.

“You know what your novel is about?” he asked, “it is about being a father.  You teaching your boys how to be a man.”

Chen has written a selection of award-winning novels including, Colors of the Mountains, Brothers, and My Last Empress. His works are textual paintings, brush strokes of scenery and richness detailing his past and the past of his native China. Part of his writing legacy is casting his glance backwards and capturing what he sees from memory and history.

His comment was perfect.  The novel was my glance backwards, analyzing my past and teaching my boys about their future.


Photo Credit: kevin dooley via Compfight cc

I met another good friend the first night of my first residency on Ender’s.  Colin Hosten is a skilled author, professor, and activist.  I’ve had the pleasure of hearing him read more than once and tell the story of his past on the island of Trinidad. We roomed together that first residency and I’ve met very few people so easygoing and friendly.

One of the main points of his writing has been efforts to see his marriage with his husband validated by a change in law, capped with the end of the Defense of Marriage Act in 2013. His words capture the fire and passion of an activist.

His legacy, and his words, are changing the world moving forward.

As you look at the blank page, consider what legacy you want to leave.  Can you look back at the past or is it too painful? Can you look forward and blaze a new path, pick up a new cause or accomplish a new goal?

All it takes is a first step, one word, and the time is now.

Soundtrack Inspiration: A classic from Van Halen.  This video has been around a long time and most of the messages still apply, regardless of how they make us feel.

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