The shocking sudden death of author Ethan Day this week, along with the passing of my own stepfather Tony a few weeks ago, has gotten me thinking about death, and mortality, and artistic legacy.
Ethan’s own legacy will be measured at least in part by his many published books, and by his time stewarding the Gay Rom Lit con, along with his wonderful co-conspirators. But he will also be remembered for his sweet, happy demeanor, and the integrity with which he lived his life.
For me ,this was most evident in the way he wound down his Wilde City Press. It was done in a very careful, planned and methodical way which should serve as a model for all future small press closures. Ethan took the time to make sure everyone knew what was happening, paid all the cpmpany’s outstanding royalties, and basically just did it right.
As authors, all of us leave behind a body of work when we go. Some of these are multi-million dollar estates, and some are much more modest, a handful of readers who loved our painstaking work. But each and every one of them reflects who we were as artists and leaves a mark on the world.
I’ve been thinking about this a lot recently. Hitting the half-century mark has a way of bringing things like age and death and legacy into a sharp focus.
I am on the verge of wrapping up the second of two trilogies, something I could not have imagined doing just a few years back. There are many more stories I want to tell – so many adventures I want to take my readers on.
But what if something were to happen to me tomorrow? The proverbial being hit by a bus? Or being crushed by a falling piano? No matter the cause, if I passed away now, would I be happy with what I am leaving behind?
The answer, for me at least, is yes. While I would hope my unexpected demise could wait at least until after October 2019, when I would actually see the last book come out, I have done what I wanted to do. I put my mind and heart into being an author, and I wrote some stories that I am immensely proud of.
In the end, isn’t that all we can really ask for?
So to honor those who have passed on before us, I ask all of my writing friends this. What do you want your legacy be, when your time on this mortal coil comes to an end? Have you done what you set out to do as an author? And if not, what are you waiting for?
I dedicate this chat to Ethan and the other authors who we have lost before. May your legacy survive you, and bring happiness to many others.