On a day when we stop to remember those who served in the United States’ armed forces, it seems appropriate to quote one of our first patriots, Benjamin Franklin. A man who helped that nation begin. A man whose deeds have been written about and read for over a century. His words seem to epitomize one of the main goals society gives us for life: to make our stay here worthwhile, memorable.
Isn’t it a natural human desire to be remembered? To want our loved ones to be remembered?
A few weeks ago, I caught part of a special about the families of soldiers killed in action and a group called American Gold Star Mothers, Inc that supports them. One of the main comforts that many of the people said the group gave them was the fact that they felt their children were remembered. That they hadn’t died for nothing and been forgotten.
That’s also a power that writing has. The written word has the power to immortalize people, to spread awareness of their existence, and to show that they have not been forgotten.
Nonfiction writers and journalists are the ones most associated with this heavy task. Memoir writers, autobiographers, biographers – people who write the true stories of people’s lives. People they thought had a life worth writing about and, therefore, worth reading about. But those writers aren’t the only ones. Bloggers and even fiction writers shape a written record of the time, it’s rules, and their experiences. Real people can be immortalized through characters they inspired as easily as true stories.
So how do you choose what is worth writing? How do you know what will be worth reading? I don’t know. And I don’t know that it’s worth agonizing over. In fact, there’s probably only one question about it worth asking: what or whom do you want to be remembered?