What would it be like to be a dead author?

I’ve been needing to update my blog for a while now, but I like to have something to say before I start out and recently my head has been too full of other things to come up with a decent blog post. My mother would say I’ve got too many irons in the fire. The truth is, I bounce from one project to the next and rarely have a moment to come up with something real to say. For instance, this week I’ve been rewriting a submission at the request of a publisher, cataloging library books, updating a Facebook page and trying to keep up with all my other regularly scheduled activities. Add to that my new quest to actually SELL the books I already have published and you end up with a whirling head and no time to BREATHE (pun intended).

Today I stopped for a second while I was working on the library books. I stopped because I had come across a nice little paperback of Joseph Conrad’s Lord Jim. I’ve never read this novel, but I love books in general, and this one had obviously been read. Plus, I’m fascinated by dead authors. What must it be like to die knowing your books are read the world over and will be read for years to come as Conrad did? Hemingway is another one like that. Did he die knowing he was a legend? I’m pretty sure Samuel Clemens did, although he probably figured the joke was on us. And what about authors like Poe who died penniless? Would he feel better about his life knowing his work has lived on as long as it has?

Libraries are full of dead authors, and they’re much more fascinating than the live ones, if you get right down to it. My friend Ellen Meister has a book coming out in a couple of weeks called Farewell, Dorothy Parker that I absolutely can’t wait for. Leading up to it, Ellen has maintained a Facebook page for Dorothy Parker, and it has been fascinating reading. I was never a huge Dorothy Parker fan (and can’t swear I am now, either), but I definitely include her among the ranks of dead authors I’d love to meet. And since I can’t, I’ll just have to read Ellen’s book, a novel about a woman who meets Dorothy Parker’s ghost.

I hope there’s a literary heaven somewhere and I hope Poe is treated with as much respect there as Papa Hemingway. I like to think they all know when their books are read by someone who loves them…or even a high school student who reads it because he has to.

4 thoughts on “What would it be like to be a dead author?

  1. This reminds me of the first conversation I had with my agent before I was a client. She asked, “Where do you see yourself as an author 5 years from now?” and I replied, “If I can walk into a bookstore and see my name on a cover, I can die happy.”

    Great post, Michelle!

  2. Well, I think Ellen has just about made the best comment for the blog, but I’ll add mine — I would like to be a well-known living author who continues that well-knownness into death, I just hope the latter part of that wish doesn’t happen for a long, long, loooooong time!

    This was a nice post, Michelle. Enjoyed reading it.

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