I had planned to sound off about another aspect of writing, but something happened to a dear friend this week. Since Sharon Donovan had her heart attack and subsequent heart surgery, I've been contemplating the capricious nature of life on this planet. We're all train wrecks happening in slow motion. We know we're going to crash one day and we can do nothing about it other than try to live safe and healthy. Sometimes even that isn't enough.
One of my favorite authors, Robert B. Parker, died earlier this summer. I didn't know him but loved his books and assumed from his photos that he was pretty healthy. One day, he just died. His illustrious career was over; his race run. Was he in the middle of his next Jesse Stone mystery? If he was, will anybody step up to finish the work on it? Could anybody do that in a way that doesn't seem artificial?
And there's my dilemma. It's not Sharon's writing I worry about at this point, nor is it Robert's. I have four novels sitting on my desktop, waiting for me to offer them to a publisher. All they need is a contract and an editor's help in bringing them to fruition. In addition, I have three more in progress but not complete. If that conductor in the sky janks my chain and I come crashing into the curve and off life's track, who will finish them for me? Can anybody do justice to them?
About now, some cynic in our midst is asking, "Who cares?" Actually, that's a very good question. What does it matter if a composer hasn't finished his last symphony, or an artist his latest canvas? Or an author, his next blockbuster novel? Why should any of it matter?
What I have come away from all this introspection with, is that creative artists in any medium are sharing a part of themselves with the world. Unlike most people, we are willing to bare our souls in public. But we usually do it in code. I'm convinced that we can read any good author's work and deduce who that author is at her/his heart. I know I let my hair down in my books. I could tell you what to look for and you'd have no trouble finding me in the pages and the 'hearts' of my characters. That, however, would not be fair and so, if you want to know what matters most to me, you'll have to read my work and discover my codes.
Just a little something to tease you with, my theme is constant and it's pretty simple at its heart. If my readers come away with that theme, my work has succeeded whether I'm still around or not. And whether my last book is finished or not. When the great archangel sounds his trumpet and I answer the call from eternity, my work here will be done. I find great solace in that.
Till next time, your friend and author.