I will finish this book!
“Alexander, the conqueror of the world; Julius, invader of Rome and of the world, who was the first to unite dominance in both war and arts within a single person…would not now be remembered, without the aid of books. Towers have been torn down; cities overthrown; triumphal arches have succumbed to decay; nor can either pope or king find a better way to bestow the privilege of perpetuity than books. The book he has made renders its author this service in return: that so long as the book survives, its author remains immortal and cannot die,…. (Richard of Bury, The love of books, 1344).
(Quoted by Seb Falk, The Light Ages, the surprising story of medieval science, 2020, pg. 297–298)
These words hit me hard last night as I finished Falk’s book on the history of science. I have been struggling to decide whether to continue with my book project or just abandon it. This is the situation. I am 78 and the book was begun as a joint project with my second son, Charlie. Our tastes in reading were similar and our objections to how women were treated in one fantasy book series we read were alike. We began to write a book together. His favorite genre was poetry and his descriptive prose showed that. His dialog was terrible. I on the other hand, love to write dialog and provide the backstory on scenes. We had four chapters done when the beast of mental illness won Charlie’s life-long battle. He hung himself in the backyard of our home. I put the partial manuscript away for several years. I returned to it when I joined a small group of “emerging writers” as we called ourselves and shared a few scenes. They challenged me to complete it as an expression of love for my son.
Over the last two years, I wrote more than 150,000 words in the first draft; worked with a developmental editor; reduced it to about 80,000 and found some beta readers. The editor warned me I needed those other eyes before I tried to publish it. The beta readers were enthusiastic when they volunteered to read but life is complex and busy. I have a few comments but not the information I need. In my discouragement, I was about to declare it over and not publish. Last night, I read the quote above and determined to move on. Yes, there are some really awful books that get self-published on Amazon Digital Publishing or other venues, and yes, my children and grandchildren may cringe at what I have written, but I wrote it. It will stand long after I am gone. The ideas developed by my son will stand even though he is gone.
Richard of Bury, Bishop of Durham, said it well, as long as the book survives, the author does too.