The Pen is Mightier…


Writing is your best legacy

In a recent survey of 138 writers, when asked why they write, 32% (the majority) said ‘to make an impact.’ That figure was bigger than ‘for career/money’ (30%), ‘love of craft’ (19%) and ‘freedom’ (18%). I found that really encouraging: writers write to make a difference: they promote literacy; defend causes; change people’s minds; educate, challenge prejudice, make people laugh … the list is endless. Writing creates an indelible record of people’s thoughts, ideas and emotions at a period in time. On a selfish level, it’s proof of their existence – a legacy for their descendants, a stake in posterity.

I’ve recently been teaching Kazuo Ishiguro’s wonderful novel ‘Never Let Me Go.’ One of the questions my students often ask is ‘why are the clones so passive – why don’t they fight back?’ In a documentary about the film of the novel, entitled ‘The Secrets of Never Let Me Go,’ Ishiguro supplies the answer. The novel, he says is a metaphor for mortality – we can’t defy mortality, the clones can’t defy the regime that has them donate their vital organs at a young age so that others can live. Kathy, the narrator, knows she will die, and seems to have accepted it, but her story will testify to her life long after she’s surrendered it – and perhaps that is her best defiance.

If we have the gift of words we’re lucky - we can use that gift to inspire and help others, and, although this might not be our first aim, it might help us achieve immortality.

So let’s write on! The pen really is mightier ...