Thursday, March 31, 2011

Aspiring Advice: The Test of Time

Imagine you are having dinner at a decent restaurant with some friends and you start discussing your favorite movies and books. More often than not, you're aware of many of their choices. Some might even be among your favorites. Then you ask yourself, why is that? What makes them stand out from other works out there?

There's many theories and answers that may satisfy these questions, but I think the best is perspective. When I hear the name Spielberg, I think of E.T. When I hear the name Gershwin, I think of Rhapsody in Blue. James Stewart, It's a Wonderful Life. Of course, if other people heard these same names, they may come up with something else off the tops of their heads. To wrap up this Memorable March, we'll explore the open and ambiguous topic of how to stand the test of time.

I'll level with you now. Writing something that will stand the test of time is not what you may think. Must it be a New York Times best seller? Absolutely not. How many books do you love that never made it on the list? How many books were on the list, but you've long forgotten them? This is all subjective, to a point, but if someone remembers a work, they'll keep it alive by thinking on it or talking about it. Some works are considered to be so terrible, that even they have stood the test of time . . .

Is it wrong of me to laugh?

How do you write a (good) book/story that will stand the test of time? The answer is quite simple. Write it.

My grandfather wrote a book, historical fiction, about the Nevada Gold Rush. It was never published. To my knowledge, I have his only copy, in his own handwriting. While it's rough around the edges, it's a wonderful story, a moving tribute to the end of the old west. It's a story worth telling, so one of these days, I'll type it up, clean it up, and see what I can do with it. I may be his only audience for now, but because I want to do this for my deceased grandfather, his work still has time on its side.

The worst case scenario for us writers is that we'll never get published. Even if that's true, you've still written something. You've left a book behind, containing your perspective on the world and other cherished thoughts. Long after you're gone, it will land in the hands of someone, even if it's years down the timeline.

This is not the rule, just my thoughts on the matter. Tell us a good story, a moving, memorable, life-changing story. What people do with it will determine whether or not your work will stand the test of time.

What are your thoughts on the test of time? Is it important to be remembered by millions or just a few?

I'm David, and this clock is fast.

If you haven't checked out my Candy Princess Monster giveaway yet, there's still a few days left to enter.

Until next time, keep up the good write!


  1. I think the most important thing for standing the test of time is to write what really matters to you. Chances are, it will matter to someone else as well, and like your grandfather's story, it will stick with them. Thanks for sharing this!

  2. What a great post. I never really follow the bestseller lists. I pick up a book if it sounds good, and if it's on the bestseller list, then power to that author! :)
    Also, I write because I love it. Yes, being published would be amazing, but even if it never happens, I'll still write. My life would be incomplete without it, and it makes me happy. My kids can enjoy what I write, (or make fun of me) when they're older and hopefully they will share it with their kids. Thanks for this post, and thanks for stopping by my blog! :D I'm a follower.

  3. Thought you'd like this: Skip towards the bottom.

  4. This is such a great post, David. I think I've been missing out by not coming here sooner. To be remedied!

    Yes I want to be published, but for me it's really about that ONE reader. The one who emails me after reading my book and tells me THANK YOU. The one whose heart I reach. I write for THAT person.

    And if that person turns out to be my grandchild, well, if it means something to that child, then I think I'll be happy.

    Great, great post.

  5. I use to think if I was never published that my work would stand the test of time on a forgotten hard drive. Then I realized oh, one good solar flair from the sun...bye bye manuscript. More accurately, good bye all and any working electronics.

    Makes me wish I could write out my manuscript long hand.