Writer’s Craft #42 – Probably my last book

Lorne S. Jones
Lorne S. Jones

Lorne S. Jones is the author of the novel Mighty Oaks, available on Amazon.com. And a cancer patient with a grim prognosis.

From your host, Lynda Williams

If you knew you had months, weeks, or days to live would you still care about writing? Lorne S. Jones does.

Lorne and I both attended the same Writer-Librarian Read Dating event this April at the Vancouver Public Library. I didn’t interact with Lorne much at the time. But a few days ago, I was weeding backlogged messages from lists when I spotted the subject line on readdating “Probably my last book”. And was humbled by Lorne’s message in which he tells the group about his aggressive brain cancer and follows up by urging us to keep writing!

When I asked him if I could share the e-mail on The Writer’s Craft, he said yes. You can read it here: Lorne Jones – Probably My Last Book. I also quote, below, from the e-mail in which he gave me his permission.

We might take it for granted that, because we can read, every generation that follows will somehow magically be imbued with that ability. Even a light skim through history tells us otherwise. So many dead languages. So many lost stories. I’ll make my plea one more time: all you writers out there, keep at it, no matter how many buckets of cold water are thrown on your dreams. Even in the face of a full fire-hose blast of negativity, your work has value and possibly even the ability to keep the fragile flame of literacy from being dowsed.

Lorne S. Jones

Let’s tell Lorne we’ll keep the torch alive for him.


4 thoughts on “Writer’s Craft #42 – Probably my last book

  1. Deeply moving. It is good to hear a voice speaking from the perspective of the big picture — not just today’s market report, to ebook or not to ebook — but the hereafter of centuries.

    When my mother was my age she had been dead for four years. As I make my way through my second half-century, my work becomes even more urgent. Even if I don’t manage to get it published, it must at least be written, revised, perfected as much as possible in the hope that it may be preserved after I am gone, discovered, shared. I think many of us write with this in mind, that our work will survive us, will live on and continue to be an active presence in the world after we are gone.

    Thank you, Lorne, and yes, if we all keep a candle burning, we can keep the flame going through even the darkest age.

  2. I’m not sure if I write for the sake of future generations, but I know that writing gives me a way to face my fears. If I were told I only had a short time left to live, I’d immediately turn to my writing as a source of comfort.

  3. Writing has always been where I went to process the world. The Okal Rel Saga is the distillation of decades, inextricably entwined with my life experiences although it is about another world. I don’t know how to live without it. As I reach completion of the ten novel series, in the midst of such rapid changes in the world of publishing it is hard to know if one’s “succeeded” or “failed”, I find myself facing the end unprepared. Glad, but puzzled. And so aware the greatest joys were in the making of it, however hard those joys are to sustain without the dream of being read and celebrated for what we’ve created. Part of my reason for doing the Writer’s Craft is to re-connect with that joy of creation, in others. And to value it as I always should have and usually struggled to; to be proud of what’s achieved, although it could always be “more”, without giving up faith in the future; to accept the “why” will never have a simple answer. And embrace the fact a writer is a writer. Thank you, Lorne, for your wisdom.

  4. Thanks, everyone, for the kind words of support. I’ve never really thought of myself as a wise man, or even a very clever one. I’ve certainly been outmaneuvered and even swindled by many clever types in my life, and it’s usually been my own fault. I think it was WC Fields who coined the phrase: “you can’t cheat an honest man”. During my formative years, every time that one of my buddy’s came up with a sure-fire scheme for getting away with something dishonest, it invariably went horribly wrong, whether I participated or not.
    So I’m not looking for some magical way to pull my old sack of bones out of this situation, some rule-bending escape from the clutches of the cancer which is rapidly devouring what few working brain cells I’ve got left (hey, I remember the Sixties, and I was really there).
    But there is no way that any of us is going to live forever… physically.
    However, there is another type of immortality that is available to each and every one of us who writes. Does the name William Shakespeare ring a bell? How about Wordsworth, Keating or Shelley?
    While it is true that there is a very real possibility that ignorance could engulf humanity and the ability to read and write could vanish from our species, and that writers are the first line of defense against that possibility, there is also a form of immortality available to those who keep the fragile flame of literacy burning in the hearts and minds of generations to follow.
    A writer of classic novels or pulp fiction, sonnets or limericks is every bit as valuable to the ongoing struggle against illiteracy as the creator of technical reports. And sometimes, like a piece of buoyant wood held down by a heavy weight, it might take quite a while for the importance of your work you surface and be “discovered” for its worth. Don’t let that discourage you! Van Gough only sold one painting in his lifetime, and that was to his brother. That is sad, but irrelevant when you take into consideration the impact and power of his work that still resonates today.
    Where am I going with this rambling message? To put forth the view that writers, composers of words who either discover new and interesting ways of thinking or else find new ways of stating old yet still valuable points that might otherwise become forgotten it the relentless march of progress, writers are possibly the most valuable commodity that humanity has against the never ending gravitational pull of ignorance that would otherwise see us revert to a bunch of grunting, club-swinging hunter-gatherers.
    I’ll close by adding an addendum to the old quote: “The pen is mightier than the sword”. My addition is: “…provided folks can still read.”
    Keep writing, everyone, and enticing people to get so excited that they will always want to share your works with folks they know!
    Yours truly,
    Lorne S. Jones

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