Death Becomes You: What Will Your Legacy Be?

By J.A. (Julie) Kazimer

I’m going blind.

The eye doctor told me this a few weeks ago. I have diabetic retinopathy which is basically uncontrolled bleeding behind my eyes from half a lifetime of having type 1 diabetes. Retinopathy leads to blindness. It might take a year, it might be five, ten, or twenty years.

There is no cure.

I will go blind.

(I’m not looking for sympathy, many others have it far worse. I’d like nothing more than to for you to read on because I feel like there’s a bigger point to be made).

Sadly, my first thought was, my career is over before it really started (I lie and say I’m an optimist when asked, but I come from a long line of Pollyanna-like pessimists).

And if my fate ends with not being able to write anymore (which it won’t since I plan to teach my seeing-eye dog how to type, so forgive me for any future novels begging for bones), what sort of legacy will my works leave?

What do my books say about me?

Better yet, what do your books say about you?

Scary thought, right?

Don’t get me wrong. I am proud of every book I’ve put into the world. I’ll freely admit some are better than others. Some suffered from my learning my craft. Some suffered from thinking I knew too much. Hell, in one book, and I won’t say which, I believed that using ‘said’, thanks to a bad critique group, was akin to publishing suicide. I only used it 939 times in 76 thousand word novel (Don’t try this at home; it will result in severe trauma). The book is published and available in ebook and trade paperback. I dare you to figure out which one it is.

But I’m talking less about craft and grammatical insanity than content. I wonder what sort of legacy my words leave in the world because there is immortality in your work. Even if you never publish a single word, it is forever alive.

As much as a part of me wishes to leave behind a legacy like Maya Angelou, who recently departed did, I know better. I am a genre writer, sometimes a good one, and sometimes bad. I love writing romance. I love writing mysteries. I loved writing F***ed Up Fairytales.

But I’m no Angelou.

I’m me.

And I will own my legacy.

And if we’re lucky, after we’re gone, we will have someone like Mark Stevens to convey our uniqueness with the rest of the world like Mark is doing with writer Gary Reilly. Also like RMFW does at every Colorado Gold conference when they honor Rick Hanson’s life’s work with contest where first place is usually a haiku’s using the word sphincter.

I think I’ll end this post here.

But I’d love to hear what sort of legacy you see for yourself, and what you wish your legacy could be? And if you could use the word sphincter, that would be great.

7 thoughts on “Death Becomes You: What Will Your Legacy Be?

  1. Summer Farnsworth

    I’m sorry to hear about your eyes, Julie. Your legacy is tenacity, love of writing, sincerity, and a sense of humor that is hard to resist. I know you will write many more books. You have a gift.

    Reply
  2. Patricia Stoltey

    That’s terrible, Julie, but absolutely not the end of the world. Your wonderful creativity and your awesome sense of humor will carry you on to greater accomplishments. You’re way too amazing to let anything drag you from your dreams.

    We do think about our legacy a lot, don’t we? It’s one of the reasons I keep getting that nagging feeling I should write at least one serious, meaningful book…someday…..

    Reply
  3. Dean K Miller

    My legacy (aka my words) will be decided upon by those who read them. I neither control (nor wish to) the interpretations that others make of my words (aka my life.) They shall choose and by that time, I still won’t care.

    Reply
  4. Faye

    Sometimes fate is more in charge of our lives than we want it to be. But fate can’t change dreams unless we choose to surrender. Just when I thought my life was over, I later realized it was really just beginning. And the adventure was better than I could have written it. You have a gift Julie. That gift and talent does not depend on eyesight. It depends on tenacity (okay, downright stubbornness) and attitude. If you want to write, you will find a way. And please know, there are many good people who are willing to hold you up when you feel down, and ways to get around the challenges that come from a piece or part that refuses to cooperate. Write on, Girl! Let part of your legacy be continuing to inspire unsure writers with your wit and wisdom.

    Reply
  5. Lesley

    Hi Julie, I’m sorry to hear about your horrible news. :(
    I know you are processing and grieving and you need to give yourself time to do this.
    You may not be ready to hear what I’m about to say next but here it is:
    There’s a lot of good technology now for blind folks, including transcribing voice and reading text (e.g. JAWS), etc. So, you *could* keep writing.
    As a fan of your work, I sincerely hope you do.
    Good luck with everything!

    Reply

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