I was sitting on the loo earlier (where so many of my best ideas come to me) when a thought just sprang up in my mind. Somehow my thought process had managed to meander onto what I would do, or rather how I would feel if The End was nigh, and I suddenly decided I would grab a pen and my notebook, and I would write. I’m not sure how I figured the notebook would survive, but I just did, and I decided that I would write and write. I would write the most beautiful words and phrases I have ever written, because my legacy, my immortality would depend on it. I pictured in my mind The End as it happens in The Day After Tomorrow, where the whole of the northern hemisphere gets frozen and anyone in the UK is basically screwed. Unlike all my previous imaginings of The End (and there have been many – my mind tends to wander towards the morbid when given free reign), I did not panic or sob or fight for my very existence, because I realised that there was a way I could go on living, that I didn’t have to completely disappear.
Before, I’ve always thought that one of the reasons why I simply have to get my novel published is to create my legacy, something that will live on and carry my name with it, so I can be remembered. For we all fear being forgotten. But sitting there in that draughty cubicle today, I realised I had it wrong. It’s not the legacy, the recognition of an achievement, the association of a name with a literary body of work that keeps the person alive. It’s the words themselves. The words. Because the words are my voice. When someone reads my words a hundred years from now they are hearing my voice, me. They may be reading a story about this character or that, but no matter whose viewpoint I write from, it is always my voice that underlies it all, me that the words are coming from. When they read aloud those words, they are reliving my thoughts, they are speaking the same words I spoke to myself many years before as I sat at my desk hammering away at the keyboard.
When I am dead and gone, when my lips have parted for the last time and rotted away into the earth, my dreams, my hopes, my fears, my very thoughts will live on. My words. Me. And that is why I must continue to write, I must scrawl my thoughts across the page, tip tap my sentences into the computer, capture every precious thought and moment and cognitive spark. Because when I’m gone, it is all that will be left of me. And as long as people read my words, I shall never truly be gone.