Sunday, August 30, 2009

Why I Write

John Kennedy Toole was born in 1937. After spending some time as a professor, he was drafted in 1961 where he taught English to Spanish-speaking recruits. By the time he worked in a men's clothing factory, he was able to write A Confederacy of Dunces. He had several unpublished works. He sent the manuscript to Simon and Shuster but it was rejected. From that rejection, his world crumbled. He began drinking heavily, had nasty headaches and would disappear from time to time. Toole committed suicide on March 26, 1969.

After his death, Toole's mother insisted that Walker Percy, the author of The Last Gentlemen, read her son's unpublished book. Walker was hesitant and later bargained with himself that he would only ready a few chapters to satisfy the mother and put it down for good. But Walker could not just put the novel down. He read that book well on into the night and fell in love with it. Later, he wrote the forward when the book was finally published in 1980. A Confederacy of Dunces won the pulitzer prize, sold 1.5 million copies and was translated into 18 languages.

I had never heard of the book up until a couple months ago when Chuck Palahniuk, in a web video describing his favorite books, recommended Confederacy of Dunces. I searched up this history and realized something. Writing literature is a way of putting your thoughts on paper, to immortalize your words. It was tragic how this author thought he was doomed and ended his life, but even he could not predict the novel's outcome. With his words he was remembered and established a legacy. To date, I have well over sixty ideas which I hope to publish. I write not only because I want to get these thoughts on paper but there is also an encouraging notion that my ideas will outlive me. That strangers will pick up my book, read it and say something about it. It may inspire them to write or it may make them look at their life differently. We don't know for sure. But I'd rather be remembered than be forgotten. So, I'm happy that God has blessed me with gift. That's why I write.

"When a true genius appears in the world, you may know him by this sign, that the dunces are all in confederacy against him." ~Jonathan Swift

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