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If You Would Not Be Forgotten As Soon As You’re Dead and Rotten

I don’t know if Benjamin Franklin had it right when it comes to fiction writing.

Does writing something ‘worth reading’ prolong life and memory beyond the years of our physical lives? Yes, we know of Shakespeare today, but what about a thousand years from now? Would he still be remembered? Besides, did he really write because he wanted to get as close to immortality as possible? What were his motivations for writing?

To do something ‘worth writing about’ is again a dubious thing. What is worth writing about? Do writers write only of great adventures, achievements, of lives lived in the limelight?

According to me, everything we do is worth writing about…all our gestures, eccentricities, deformities, sins, ugliness, just as much as our joys, our triumphs, and all the beauties of human nature and existence. No matter how big or small, human lives deserve to be written about in all their glorious and humiliating detail—because that is what gives us life beyond life–a celebration of our existence upon this earth each moment of the finite time we’re given.

So, I’d rather write not to make myself immortal, but to make the life of my times live beyond me–to celebrate life as it is around me today, in all its positive and negative aspects, across the entire spectrum of society, see it for what it really is and mirror its reality for the coming generations. (Perhaps, this is why when I go to museums I’m as impressed by a humble brass tobacco grinder as a beautifully worked jade bracelet– both transport me to the times their owners lived. I do think Fiction is a different, and somewhat more authentic, telling of History.)

Besides, when I write fiction, I’m not aware of reasons and motives beyond the immediate one: I want to say something, and will keep trying to say it in the best way I can, mostly because the voices in my head won’t shut up. Once my work is out of my hands, it is on its own, and its readers would decide its life and death, quite irrespective of me, or my longevity beyond my death.

What is your take on this? Do you write to live beyond your natural span, so you aren’t forgotten? And if you’re not a writer, do you strive to live in such a way that you’re written about? Any other views on what Mr. Franklin had to say?

Damyanti Biswas

Damyanti Biswas is the author of You Beneath Your Skin and numerous short stories that have been published in magazines and anthologies in the US, the UK, and Asia. She has been shortlisted for Best Small Fictions and Bath Novel Awards and is co-editor of the Forge Literary Magazine. Her literary crime thriller series, the Blue Mumbai, is represented by Lucienne Diver from The Knight Agency. Both The Blue Bar and The Blue Monsoon were published in 2023.

I appreciate comments, and I always visit back. If you're having trouble commenting, let me know via the contact form, or tweet me up @damyantig !

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  • Tracy Jo says:

    I love this quote. It is inspiring to me and is saying…to push yourself to live your best life. Great post too…love your thoughts on it. I write because something deep inside me is pushing me to and for once…I am listening to the push. 🙂

  • Am I the only one who doesn't give a sh*t if I'm remembered? It's way more important to be noticed now – ha.

  • Plato mentioned the same thing, about writing to become immortal. It's catching to me because it's a way to always be a part of other's lives. I may not be a writer but if it happens with my research I'd be pleased.

  • Hi Damyanti, thanks for visiting my blog. The Gym Instructor blog is just for fun – my writing blog is the one taking part in the A-Z challenge.

    In amswer to the question you asked in this post, I would love to be remembered beyond my lifetime, but I think only a certain type of fiction will move easily from generation to generation, and I don't think I write that kind.

  • I've honestly never wondered about this. Great question though. Maybe one day people will say my writing was before its time as wormholes become an every day part of people's lives.

  • V. Furnas says:

    I don't write for immortality I write because I have too.

    Looking forward to reading more of your post. Found my way here by way of A to Z.

  • I love this quote. I began blogging to record stories for two nieces who could care less about their family's deep history. They don't know about this blog. Hopefully, one day they won't be as materialistic and, well, the stories will be there.

  • Anna Smith says:

    Your post was lovely and I agree with what Miranda said. Whenever I write it's purely for enjoyment, and I hope others enjoy reading it. I like that when we write we can create different worlds and go to places that are not possible in the real world.

  • I don't write for the immortality. It's more to envision adventures I've not seen elsewhere. If other enjoy it, now or later, that is just bonus.

  • I love this quote – I think it is what motivates all sorts of people, but it definitely drives me to want to be a better person and writer.

  • Arlee Bird says:

    Right now I'm writing in hopes of making some income and to share with others. If people read my writing after I'm long gone then that's an added benefit. But whether or not one is widely read and highly regarded in some future time probably depends on the recognition they received during life.

    An A to Z Co-Host
    Tossing It Out
    Twitter: @AprilA2Z

  • I have this quote taped to my computer. I interpret it a little differently and apply it to my writing. Either write something worth reading (and it should be well written and inspiring) or do something worth writing (be the best person you can and help out when possible). I'm not wanting to be immortal, but I want to make an impact, even if on only one person.