I don’t know about you. But I think a lot about the fact that I will not be here forever.
Not that I plan on going anywhere anytime soon. I have stuff to do.
But (uh, probably thanks to John Green) I spend a little time each day thinking about human mortality. And I spend a lot more time than that wondering if the things I am doing with my moments really matter. Especially when it comes to my writing.
I think it’s safe to say at this point that I’ve spent the majority of my life wanting to be a writer. The exact logistics of what that has meant for me personally have changed many times. But I have always been drawn to storytelling. It has always ignited a very powerful fire inside me.
But I am not immune to the usual tribulations of the creative arts. I doubt myself, I consider abandoning my work for something more “practical,” I cry, I lose sleep, just like the rest.
There’s one thing that always reminds me why the time I spend telling stories is worth every moment. And that’s that, one day, I won’t be here anymore. And the only things I may be able to leave behind are those stories.
In books and movies characters are always searching for that invisible path to immortality. In the real world we are always seemingly trying to develop or use something with “anti-aging” properties that might somehow extend our lives.
What better way to live on than to take small pieces of you and scatter them around the world — like Horcruxes (sorry) but less terrible?
What better place to leave pieces of you behind than in stories?
Stories are not just things you write down. They are a part of you. They ARE you.
It doesn’t matter how widely read they are, how proud of them you are, how much they manage to shape the world while you are still a living part of it. As long as you write them down, they exist, and even though you won’t be around forever, they will.
When you dedicate your life to telling stories, you are — in some way — committing to immortality. Accepting that the things you dare to throw out into the world may go so far beyond you that they continue living even when you don’t.
If that’s not reason enough to grasp onto every idea that comes to you and treat it as though it’s your last, I don’t know what could be.
I do not know how long I will be here. I try (and fail) not to think about it too much.
Instead, I put that energy into writing stories that will outlive me. It’s the least I could do, for the world that really has given me everything I have.
Meg is the creator of Novelty Revisions, dedicated to helping writers put their ideas into words. She is a staff writer with The Cheat Sheet, a freelance editor and writer, and a 10-time NaNoWriMo winner. Follow Meg on Twitter for tweets about writing, food and nerdy things.