On Writing and Immortalization

There’s a famous author whose name I can’t recall. Prior to attaining fame, he holed himself up in an attic with the intention of writing the ultimate novel. He sat in his attic room, at his desk, for one month staring at a blank sheet of paper unable to write anything at all. He couldn’t pen a single word.

The young man left the attic room and started traveling. He had experiences that moved and changed him. It was only then that he was able to write the novel he had tried to start prematurely in vain. He realized that, without life experience, without having felt anything, he had nothing to say. The aspiring author had been a blank slate needing to be filled.

It is only after reading much, living much, analyzing much and practising the art of writing much that we are able to, with few words, say things that are meaningful and have the potential to influence readers. Anything prior to that represents crude attempts at expression that could be likened to a Neanderthal trying to recite Shakespeare.

Frozen in time

Writers possess a unique gift: we can freeze time. Writing enables us to take situations and immortalize them. And, by immortalizing situations, we ultimately immortalize ourselves. We leave behind us a body of works that can be read again and again, works that speak to those lived events that changed us and have the capacity to change others.

At the right time

There’s a time for everything and this includes producing a literary work. As much as people extol motivation, the best creations are produced through inspiration. In the same way that the now-famous author sat at his attic desk staring at a blank sheet of paper for one month lacked inspiration, we who lack inspiration should leave our ‘attic room’ and head for the proverbial trail.

In slow motion

Writing about the events that ‘fill our slates’ and civilize us is a lifelong proposition. It has everything to do with maintaining the determination to put pen to paper and tell our story. And it has nothing to do with lacking inspiration.

You will become immortal through your writings

One of the hardest things for a seasoned author to do is to move from writing fiction to writing non-fiction. I can attest to this because it happened to me in 2008. It is precisely this, however, that will catapult you into immortality. It is the step that authors fear most yet must take in order to move into another sphere.

The late Maria Zaousi, a well-known, Greek author and friend, talked to me about how she moved from writing fiction to fact. She told me that it was one of the most liberating decisions she’d ever made.

Maria was a very generous person. I was living in Athens at the time. In Europe, heating systems start working at fixed dates regardless of what the weather is like. It became very cold very soon and my cousin George’s apartment was freezing. Maria generously gave my cousin and I a large amount of firewood to warm ourselves.

This happened in 2001, but I still remember Maria’s words.

Rest in peace, Maria, and may your works continue to be read.

The Sphinx

Image title: “Wealth, power and desired immortality: monuments and tombs (Sphinx and Pyramid).

Image source: http://www.oubey.com




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