When we put down our pens for the last time ... Jo Carroll
Last week I spent a few days looking after someone who is terminally ill so her partner could have a break.
It was a quiet, reflective few days - for both of us. She spent a lot of time talking about her working life, the friends she has made and the legacy she leaves behind in her field. (I'll not tell you more than that as it would make her identifiable and I don't have her permission). She is - rightly - hugely proud of everything she has achieved and has been able to live long enough to see that systems are in place for her to be remembered, and celebrated, for all she has done.
She has no children. I have no idea if there were decisions behind that or if it is happenstance - though it did make me wonder if her need to talk about her working life would have been as urgent if she had children and maybe grandchildren to pass her baton to.
Which set me wondering. As writers, we will - inevitably in this digital age - leave our words behind. But, when stripped away, how do we want to be remembered? As writers? As mothers? Fathers? Sisters? Brothers? Bloody good friends? A bit of a laugh? Could be prickly but fine when you got to know her? Grumpy old sod? Maybe some people are more than happy to slip of this mortal coil and be forgotten?
I suspect there are as many answers to this as there are people. And maybe our answers change at different stages of our lives.
But as writers I wonder if it has a different significance. By publishing our efforts we are, maybe without meaning to, saying something about ourselves and our view of the world that will linger while we're busy pushing up daisies. And some of our readers might come to believe that our writing is all there is to say about us.
Which, I suppose, all comes back to why we write in the first place. Me - I write because I love it. I travel because I love it. As I spend time with friends and family because I love them, too - and that feels more important to me. But that's just my story. Yours may be very different.