Leaving a Legacy

WORD OF THE WEEK—Assiduous: as·sid·u·ous (adjective) \ə-ˈsij-wəs, -ˈsi-jə-\: showing great care, attention, and effort (synonym = diligent).  

In a hole in the ground there lived a hobbit.”

And so began the headlong dive into the realm of fame for a man who wouldn’t live long enough to know the true impact his life’s work had on the world. Amazing, really. That a few random words and a moment in time can change not only one person’s life, but also the whole of many others for generations to come. I bet I know what you’re thinking: you’re thinking that visions of fame and fortune are dancing in my head.

Not even remotely.

The idea of becoming the next J.K. Rowling or Stephen King is, for me, nauseating at best and full-on, panic-inducing, blubbering through the streets while getting my ‘crazy eye’ on at worst. If there are writers out there who truly desire that life, they are more than welcome to it.

I’ll take middle ground any day of the week.

Now, does that mean I wish to put forth mediocre work? Certainly not. I desperately want to throw something out there that inspires children of all ages, from nine to ninety, to remember or discover how wonderfully fulfilling and enjoyable reading can be.

Just keep the spotlight pointed elsewhere, please.

I know that doesn’t seem fair, but many people who become famous seem extremely comfortable in their new skin. It suits them, and that works for them. Just not for me. I know it comes with the territory, and fans always want to know everything there is to know about you when you’re as famous as Rowling. Some people, including writers, aspire to that level of fame. Certainly, I want to become a name in my own right. I want to make money at it, not a lot, but some (anyone who claims otherwise is a hobbyist—which is perfectly fine—or a very good storyteller…). But there is one huge, glaring reward that comes up every time I think of my intentions with this whole crazy endeavor.

I want to leave a legacy.

Do I have any misplaced ideas that I could ever have the lasting impression that Tolkien has made on our society? No, and I don’t want anyone to think that my gushing over his legacy means that I want to make any such comparisons. I am just in awe that a person can unwittingly shape the course of the future in such a grand way as he did. Rowling created her own hobbit in the form of a very special, yet very ordinary, little boy who has endeared himself to all of us over the past seventeen years.

“Mr. and Mrs. Dursley of number four, Privet Drive, were proud to say that they were perfectly normal, thank you very much.”

And, bam! There it goes. A story takes off on its own to discover its own beginnings and endings and everything in between. True, she mapped much of it out beforehand (or so the story goes), so I don’t know when she came upon the first line exactly, but the idea that a thought—just one simple thought—can ignite the flame of an entire new world? Well, that’s the stuff of legend.

Maybe I’m overreaching with this, but I’m so fascinated by the impact we can have on the world around us. I know that people have made life-saving contributions that have changed society forever, and I’m not trying to downplay the significance of their work. In the grand scheme of things, a cure for cancer would have a far greater impact than one man’s wish to discover what a hobbit  was. But the fact remains that I don’t live in those realms. I eat, think, and dream about writing. My heroes happen to be writers who have changed my own life personally.

Leaving a legacy is such a profound thought that it literally chokes me up to think about it. My fiancé and I were—for the first time in what seems like centuries now—playing a video game together. Lord of the Rings: War in the North is one of many geeked-out moments I have on a regular basis (or used to before I started writing consistently). But at one point, I stopped. I stared. And I thought. This man, this one great and legendary man, has left such a gigantic fingerprint on the world that will never, ever, be the same as a result. Even now, generations later, we continue to perpetuate his dreams through our own consciousness.

But it saddens me that he didn’t live to see its true potential and scope. It takes a mountain of faith and hard work, as well as an assiduous determination to push yourself well past any limits you previously thought you had.  I know these things take time, and I know my own legacy will be far smaller, perhaps only within a small circle of friends and family, but it is by far the greatest motivation for me through the journey of writing.

And I wouldn’t miss that journey for the world.

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