I can’t answer that question for YOU. Only you know what drives you to write. This blog post is about what drives me personally. So buckle up for a quick dive into my psyche!

I can’t imagine any writer who doesn’t enjoy the art. Writing, in my opinion, is something that resides in your DNA. It’s a compulsion. We’re storytellers and we have stories to be told. That’s our primary motivation.

And then, there is the other part of the puzzle.

While they may enjoy it, there are probably a few authors out there who are writing their books in pursuit of the almighty dollar. Others might want fame or fortune or worldly recognition of their efforts. Some might be looking to have the results of their imagination turned to screen or show.

There’s absolutely nothing wrong with any of those. Whatever motivates you to write, it still benefits the world to have your story out there to be enjoyed.

For me though, it all boils down to one simple six letter word…

L E G A C Y

It’s a word that sometimes weighs very heavily on my shoulders, more so lately than ever before.

This is going to be a very personal post, so please bear with me as I somewhat bare my soul to you guys. But I’m hoping that it also might make you, if you too are a writer, think about what’s driving your own urge to put the proverbial pen to paper and tell the world your stories.

Okay, so here goes…

Now, my origin story for writing has been relayed here before. You can find it in previous blog posts and in other places on the website. You don’t need to know about that in this blog post, because I’m delving a little deeper than how I started writing. 

This is about WHY I write. Which is a whole different kettle o’ fish!

Let’s turn back the clock a few years…

I had something of a midlife crisis brought about by a number of factors.

I’ve struggled on and off with mental health for a long while now. Nothing earth-shattering, like I know many other people deal with on a day to day basis, but enough to make me understand the illness better and relate to people who suffer from it to a much worse degree than I ever have. Bad relationships in my history, a feeling of low self-esteem, problems with my work and health, had all seen me spin slowly out of control.

For a period, I hit a low.

I couldn’t sleep. I woke up shaking and feeling anxious.

I hated my job and dreaded going, often breaking down in tears. Other than that, I felt emotionally flat and didn’t want to do anything but sleep. I rarely felt any joy or happiness, it just wasn’t on the table at that point.

The doctor first prescribed me with a drug called Diazepam (which I think is like Valium?), but that just sent me to sleep. The first time I took it I ended up sleeping for two days! So, then I was switched to Citalopram, which helped no end. It enabled me to cope day to day, and slowly but surely I worked my way back to a good place.

It helped considerably that I had a good relationship with my eventual wife, who kept me stable and supported. She helped me navigate the process of starting to understand what was affecting me.

So, as I started to mentally peel back the layers of my feelings, I realized that one of the big issues I was internally wrestling with was the one of LEGACY.

Let me explain…

There’s a biological imperative in all animals to procreate and further the species. Even sloths!

For humans, it’s a little more complicated. There is the matter of career, relationships, financial stability, etc.

I’m 48 years old this year and thus far I haven’t had children. I had a divorce, a string of bad relationships, and some horrendous debt issues that got in the way over the years. Time is a funny bugger, simultaneously going by at a crawl, but also so fast. In the moment, the pain of some of these situations feels like it’s never going to end, but then in the blink of an eye you’re through it and looking back on it with grey in your hair and white in your whiskers.

 I haven’t ruled out the possibility of kids. Sorting out our health, finances and careers has been a priority, but the fact is that the clock is ticking on that front. The older I get, the more unlikely it is to happen.

Add to this the events of recent months.

For those of you I know on Twitter, you may have noticed (or not!) that I’ve not been anywhere near as active lately as I used to be.

Real life intervened, and NOT in a good way

My father was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s a few years ago.

During 2020, he started to lose weight rapidly, worrying us as a family.

Then, recently, after a collapse and an extended stay in hospital, he has been diagnosed with cancer.

To say that this revelation turned our world upside down is an understatement. It was a very difficult few weeks as the family scrambled around trying to assimilate the news and deal with coping strategies both physical and mental.

It also left me thinking…

What will I leave behind when I scuttle off this mortal coil?

Yeah, I know, that’s maybe a bit of a morbid thought, but it does dwell in the back of my mind quite frequently.

That’s what my books are to me.

They’ll be what I leave behind when I’m gone.

My saga is a big story told over a wide canvas, and I love it. I am dedicated to getting it out of my head and onto the page so that, hopefully, people can enjoy it. I’m not looking for fame. I’m not looking to make my fortune (though I’m not averse to this!). And I’m not looking to have my creation up on the silver screen…or even the telly-box (though that would be fucking awesome!).

What I want is to know that I published my story.

And that someone out there bought it, read it, and enjoyed it.

I want to know that somewhere out there, a battered copy of one of my books is sitting on a book shelf. Maybe in someone’s house, or maybe tucked away in a second-hand bookshop somewhere. And that long after I’m dead and buried someone might stumble across it and give it a read.

Or maybe someone stumbles across a digital copy. Let’s face it, in this day and age once something is out there on the interwebs, it’s pretty much always going to be there.

I don’t have children to live on after me and pass my genetics down through generation after generation.

But maybe, just maybe, my stories can outlive me and have some tiny impact on someone’s life years after I’m gone.

That…is why I write.

Love & Books

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12 Comments

  1. Chuck

    Reply

    I get it, it makes total sense. Legacy… what you leave. I hope that you do get your books published and that people will read them long after you’re gone. It sure would be a great legacy!

    Also, sorry about your dad and you’re not too old for kids.

  2. Flashyf

    Reply

    I can really relate to what you are saying here, Jon. My daughter was born when I was 47, which was one of the best things to happen to me, but then, my dad passed away 6 months later. It’s almost as if God ( if you believe in that sort of thing ) will not let us be too happy for too long.
    And I know what you mean by the legacy thing. Let that be the thing to spur you on to write – and write better and better.

  3. Marie

    Reply

    I do believe that we all have a reason to write. Honestly legacy never really crossed my mind. I think that it is a great reason though. I do hope that you get published.
    For me, I’m writing because I love it (also it would be cool to be on the big screen someday).

    • Jon Ford

      Reply

      Oh, don’t get me wrong Marie. I LOVE LOVE LOVE writing.
      I WISH that I’d found out that this was what I wanted to do with my life when I was much younger because I think my career path would have been very different.

      That said, the characters and the idea for this story developed naturally out of other aspects of my life that maybe I would never have experienced if that had been the case. So maybe this was just meant to be how it played out.

      It’s telling actually (now I think about it!) that the overall arc for the Songbird books has A LOT to do with LEGACY and DESTINY. Sometimes I think we, as writers, tend to be subconsciously influenced in what we write.

      Here’s hoping both out series hit the big screen someday! (Or the small screen, I’d be happy with a HBO Max series too… or Amazon Prime… or Netflix…)

      • Marie

        Reply

        I think you are absolutely correct on this one Jon. I do believe that some of us are subconsciously influenced by our life and things going on around us.
        I also think it’s great that you started later in life. I mean, at least you started! Good luck hitting the big or small screen!

        • Jon Ford

          Reply

          Thanks Marie! I do with I’d started much earlier in my life, but I’m really enjoying the journey I’m now on! 😀

  4. Demelza

    Reply

    What do you think to Charles Bukowski’s famous quote and epitaph, “Don’t try?”
    Would you say he means “don’t write if you are going to do it half-heartedly” or “don’t try because it will be such a struggle?”
    Or maybe he means “don’t try to understand my epitaph!”

    • Jon Ford

      Reply

      Hmmmm and now you’re asking me to try and figure it out! LOL
      I’d not heard about quote or epitaph, but it sounds quite bleak doesn’t it?
      I think I kind of live by the opposite creed. I love to try. I want to try. Because only by trying can we find out what we’re capable of.

  5. Evie

    Reply

    I’m so sorry to hear that about your father! I hope you guys have a good support system in place. How are you doing?

    I love that your writing is the legacy you’re leaving behind! How fitting.

    • Jon Ford

      Reply

      That’s the plan Evie! 😀
      And yes, we have a good support system in place. The family as a whole is pulling together, which is what it’s all about. I’m doing okay. I had a mad moment a few weeks ago when we had to wrap our heads around the news, but that’s in the rearview mirror now.

  6. Ty Barton

    Reply

    Well, you’ve had your whole life turned upside down, haven’t you? I’m glad it hasn’t stopped you from pushing forward and accomplishing your goals. I like the idea of leaving something behind. I’m just not sure what my something will be.

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