Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Leave Your Mark -- Eve

I spent the last eight days hiking, biking, and climbing glaciers throughout the Canadian Rockies, and there’s nothing like alpine solitude to get me thinking about writing and how it relates to the meaning of life. There’s something about cruising around untouched tundra and ice that’s been around for hundreds of years that makes me feel so small and insignificant. But at the same time, I feel like I must have a purpose on the planet if I’m still here, right? Growing up, I wanted to be an actress, a psychologist, and a teacher.

So, why writing? I wondered. Of all the things I could be in this world (or have been), what is it about putting words on paper that satisfies me so much? Three things. First, I’m a storyteller. An entertainer. I love to make people laugh, cry, and think. Second, writing fiction allows me to examine and explain why I believe people behave the way they do, which relates to my fascination with psychology. Third, even though I’m not overtly “teaching” in my books, I really am. We all want our readers to take away a message, idea, or feeling they hadn’t experienced before picking up our books. That’s pretty much what teachers do.

While wandering through the wild, I received news that a dear friend had died while I was away. This type of news, of course, always makes me question my own existence, mortality, and what it’s all about. So, as I sat on the edge of a clear blue, glacier-fed lake while a family of elk surrounded me (literally...I mean, they wouldn’t let me leave!), I thought, there’s got to be more to it than that. Writing is tons of fun and intellectually stimulating, and it allows me to study people and teach things and entertain, which are all the things I love to do. But there’s definitely more to it. Then it hit me.

We all want to leave something behind. A mark. A legacy. Some people have children. Some people create a charity. As a writer, I want to leave behind books that people will read for years (hopefully) after I’m long gone. The idea that a book can leave a shockingly profound mark on the world was confirmed for me on Saturday after seeing hundreds of people (no joke) hiking mountains, riding buses, and catching planes, who were all clutching the same thick, rectangular item and pressing it to their noses. The Harry Potter books have changed the world for the better and will undoubtedly be worshiped for decades to come. Man, I would give a lot to be J.K. Rowling right now. Talk about leaving a mark on the world. Jeez!

- Eve


Rilla said...

Hey Eve,
Very sorry to hear about your friend. What a beautiful place to contemplate life...and death...and the leaving of marks. You hit it on the head. It's not just the idea of someone laughing and crying with your characters...it's also the idea of someone still laughing and crying with your characters after you are dead and gone ...Lovely post...got me all teary. Thanks!

Disco Mermaids said...

I think you're right, Eve. Those are the three main reasons I write, though their priority order switches from time to time.

I always write to entertain first. Hey! Here's a cool story. Wanna read it?

Then, it's the teach/examine thing. Have you ever thought the world might work like THIS?

And then, legacy. The closer we get to seeing my book released, the cooler I'm finding the idea of leaving my mark.

- Jay

Emily Jiang said...

Dear Eve,
So sorry to hear about the passing of your friend. Yes, I agree writing is about leaving a mark, and I love your other reasons, which I believe, too, are the major forces that drive me to write. Also, I write because I want to create the stories I never read growing up, especially stories that have Asian-American protagonists, who look (somewhat) like me. I write for those kids seeking Asian-American stories and hope that (someday) when they read my stories, they realize they are not alone. I guess that's the multicultural spin on leaving a mark.

Anonymous said...

"Man, I would give a lot to be J.K. Rowling right now. Talk about leaving a mark on the world."

Eve, you have gifts that J.K. Rowling would give a lot to have! It's one thing if your characters can make someone laugh or cry, but it's always better when the person themselves can touch you.

What's better- laughing when you're reading, or sharing a belly laugh with your friend who makes you laugh so hard you nearly pee your pants? :)
I'm sure you've left quite an imprint already!!

LindaBudz said...

Y'all are leaving a mark with this blog. And I thank you for it.

Social Butterfly Events said...

Hello EAP,
It's your old pal Kelly here. i am here to assure you, you have left a mark...and undoubtedly will continue to leave many more.

i am sorry to hear about your loss, endings are hard, but if you can take something from it, the it wasn't in vain.

hope to see you soon.

big love,
kelly xo

Lee Wind said...

I know this is an older post, but I loved it when I read it, and it stays with me. I linked to it Today (Oct 25, 2007) on my blog, "I'm Here. I'm Queer. What the Hell do I Read?"
Thanks for the inspiration and sharing!