Wednesday, November 18, 2015

"I intend to live forever, or die trying"--Groucho Marx

I live in a city that is, by and large, comprised of retirement communities. Many members of the local writer’s group are retirees. As such, our group tends to get a somewhat regular (and sobering) reminder—writers we may be, immortal we are not. About two months ago we lost another member. This past week, a loved one came to the meeting and presented us with a two-part conundrum.

Conundrum Part 1: Writer had kept a handwritten list of who he’d queried (with contact information). Loved One would like to notify agents that he is deceased. Trouble is, Loved One does not have access to Writer's e-mail address, does not know when his queries were sent, does not know which projects he’d submitted to whom, does not know if he sent out fulls or partials, and is not comfortable with e-mail (even though Writer was).

1. Should Loved One contact the agencies on the list?

2. If so, what method would be an appropriate way to contact agencies regarding the death of Writer? Phone? E-mail?

3. What would be the best/ most helpful way to break the news? Should she just give them his name and e-mail address and hope they can track him down in their inbox?

I’m not sure contacting an agency( especially a no response means no agency) with the bad news is a good idea, especially if things are at the query stage/if a form rejection had already been sent. 

Conundrum Part 2: Despite Loved One’s desire to notify agents of Writer’s death, she does not want to pull his work from consideration. She has access to his manuscripts. She would really like a fellow member of the group to take charge of Writer’s manuscripts. No one in the group has said yes. I certainly don't plan to. That said, I understand Loved One’s desire to have Writer’s work repped and published posthumously. 

4. What steps can Loved One take with Writer’s work, if any, to keep it on the road to traditional publication?

5. Is there anything the members can do to help?

Conundrum Part 1:
1. It's polite to give it a try, just in case things had moved beyond query/form rejection.

2 and 3:  Email ONLY.   Tell them the author has been checked out of the Library of Life, and thank them for their consideration. This doesn't happen all that often, but it's not unheard of. You'll need to provide his name, his email address, and where he lives (city, state.)  The agent can cross-reference from there.

Conundrum Part 2 is less easy.

4. It doesn't matter what the surviving spouse wants here. Almost no agent I can think of would take on a client who is actually not-alive. The work doesn't need to be pulled, most agents will take "I'm sorry he's no longer alive" as a reason to pass.

The death of an author before submission generally means the work isn't going to be published by a trade publisher. Self publishing is still an option, but generally a debut novel after death is a remote possibility.

5. Partnering with a surviving spouse for the publication of the absent spouse's work is a recipe for pain and suffering (yours) bar none. Plus, it's all done on spec.  As you mentioned in your first line: long life is not granted to all. Using your time wisely seems like a good idea. In other words: on your own writing.

Bottom line: don't offer to help with the manuscripts. Don't make encouraging noises. Just let the surviving spouse talk and be as gently comforting as possible. 

I did have a prospect who checked out on me some years back.  A writer whom I liked a great deal was revising a novel (we'd done several rounds) when he went silent. I didn't really worry, but then his brother got in touch with the bad news. I did appreciate knowing that he had stopped returning emails cause he was gone, not because he'd lost interest or had moved on to another agent.

I still think about the writer and wish I could get that novel into print somehow. It certainly wasn't ready for publication, but with some more work we would have had a chance.

Yes, there are isolated instances of books being published post-life, but they are ISOLATED and, at least the ones I  know of, happened quite a while ago.

This should serve as a reminder to every writer out there: keep good query records. And make sure someone else knows where they are and how to read them.

And one of these days I'll tell you the story from the other side: what happens when an agent kicks.


french sojourn said...

Tragic news, and a sad unravelling to the trail all of us are taking.

But conversely it's a strong motivator.

interesting post as always.

Tony Clavelli said...

The only success that comes to mind is that over-told John Kennedy Toole story. And though I loved A Confederacy of Dunces when I was in high school and a sucker for anything voicey, I think there's a reason that that the UpWorthy-style story of its publication gets printed right up front in every edition.

Also, though I'm dying for writer's group of my own (I'm sorry, I know), I hope I can find a group that lasts soon. Not because of death, but just because it's been hard to find dedicated folk.

(P.S. Hopefully not a Carkoonable request, but while on the subject, any sci-fi people looking for people who read and think and help make books and stories better?)

xnye said...

This was hard to read, all of it....can I write fsater?
And, an awakening, you're not published or done til the book is in your sweaty heart beating palms.

Colin Smith said...

First, how awesome it is that Opie felt comfortable asking this question. How many writers wonder about this but don't know who to ask? Thank you, Opie, for raising this important subject, and Janet for your answer.

Without getting too morbid, as events in recent days remind us, this isn't a subject just for the elderly. No-one can guarantee the next moment, and, as Janet says, if we want our work to survive us, we need to plan for that. I hope that when the Lord calls me home, if I have unagented and unpublished words, that either my wife or my kids will find a good editor, and self-publish whatever of my novels/novellas/short stories/flash fiction they deem worthy. I like the idea of leaving a legacy, or at least a footprint for future generations, that in centuries to come, one of my descendants will be able to pick up a book that their great-great-great grandfather wrote, and perhaps be inspired to follow their own dreams, knowing its in the blood. :)

Donnaeve said...

Strange coinkydink going on with this post today. Not more than a couple days ago, I had a brief conversation with Blaine about where my manuscripts, and would he know what to do should I check out earlier than planned.

It's never fun to talk about this, yet it's a smart thing to do.

My first thought as to posthumous publication was THE GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATTOO. I'm not sure how that publication story unfolded, I only know Stieg Larsson passed, and I guess the ms was sitting with an agent? Who then sold it? Or maybe it was sold, and then he died. Either way, it isn't a good idea for the spouse in this situation to do anything more than the polite contact if possible, and as to the second conundrum, I can understand the spouses wishes to respect all the hard work, but it's not really fair to expect others to pick it up and carry it on.

Donnaeve said...

Lord, I need more coffee. Sure wish there was an edit button.

Unknown said...

Well, that's a teaser. What does happen when your agent dies? I assume a second-in-command notifies you and suggests replacements?

OP's questions certainly made me think. No one even knows how to get into my laptop. Passwords are sacred. I'll leave a letter somewhere. With hints left in secret crevices.

mhleader said...

I had that happen with a critique partner a number of years ago. HOWEVER, she'd actually sold her 2nd book and was in publication process for it when her cancer got the better of her and she died. Her editor was also my editor at the time. She wanted NO information of her illness or departure to go to the publisher until the latest possible moment for fear they'd cancel publication. She actually had a discussion about cover art with him the day before she went into her final coma.

Once it became time to think about doing galley proofs a couple months after her death, I called the editor and (when he called back) explained the situation and that I would take care of proofing the galleys for her or answer other author-questions. The book did come out, the family got the royalties (I'm guessing not much, because this was a LOUSY-paying publisher, now defunct). A sad, sad situation.

But I'm anxious to hear QOTKU's story about the agents who kicked off. That has happened to me. Not to mention an editor dying in negotiations with me, and my publisher at a small press dying. They're dropping like flies around me. If we add killing off multiple imprints, lines, even entire publishing houses (2 so far)...gosh...doesn't look good, does it? And that doesn't even count the editors who mysteriously lose their jobs when they start contemplating my mss.

Jeeze. You think I'm the Kiss of Death? Do I need to be exiled to Carkoon to Keep the Publishing World Safe? Or maybe someplace Farther Into the Nether Regions???

I think I'll slink back into my dark cave to contemplate my lethal sins...

E.M. Goldsmith said...

We all just have our time. I do hope I am granted enough time to publish my full seven book series before my silly myopic heart gives up on me.

This situation is particularly sad in that this dear soul was still trying to clear the gatekeepers.

I wonder in cases like Robert Jordan (RIP), who died before he finished his wonderful Wheel of Time series how Brandon Sanderson was enlisted to finish it. Did Jordan himself arrange this (he died of cancer so he probably knew death was hovering over him for some time) or did agents and publishers pair them. I sort of wonder the same thing about the Terry Pratchett/ Neil Gaimon pairing.

Does George RR Martin have a plan for someone to finish his Song of Fire and Ice should mortality exact its price before he is done? Are these sort of arrangements made by author or by agent/ publisher for such successful series? I do wonder about this a bit.

Colin Smith said...

mh...who? Sorry, do we know that mhleader person? ;)

I recall Janet talking before about what happens when agents check out. (Actually, wouldn't librarians check out? What would agents do? Make a final submission? Come to the end of the slush pile? Finish the last chapter..?) If the agent works as part of a collective of some kind (and I have a host of questions--inspired by my wife--about how literary agencies work, how agents get paid beyond their 15%, etc. that I never think to ask when given the opportunity *sigh Bouchercon* but that's not today's topic) there's usually some provision for the agent's colleagues to make sure clients are notified and given some kind of continuity. But QOTKU knows best, so I'll shut up and let her explain--especially in the event the agent is on his/her own.

Completely off-topic: Someone needs to design a shirt that says, "Excuse me for staring, I'm a WRITER." :) Nuff said.

Colin Smith said...

EM: I've wondered about Martin and his supposedly 7-part series. He's in his late 60s and still working on the final two books. You'd think he'd have some provision, especially since these are not short novels, and he seems to like to take his time over them. I remember thinking the same thing about J.K. Rowling prior to the release of Harry Potter 7. If she had met an untimely demise before completing the series, did she have some provision in her will to at least make known the plot of any unwritten Potter novels, or would she have let Harry's secrets die with her?

E.M. Goldsmith said...

Yes, Colin. I must have that t-shirt. My daughter gets on me about "staring" at people all the time. Always wondering what stories are hiding within. Sorry, I will go back under my lurking rock now.

LynnRodz said...

I've been slacking off since Friday, so this post is definitely a wake up call to get this MS finished. Thanks, Janet, for giving me that well needed kick in the pants.

I also want to hear about what happens when your agent dies, which brings me to Mhleader. You can bet your bottom kale cake there will not be an offer for your work here at Fuzzy Prints. Oh wait, I'm no longer the head of FPL, am I? I forgot I was exiled from Carkoon. Where am I again?

Btw, I love the sub-header this week.

There's a movement here in Paris called: Je Suis En Terrace (I'm At A Sidewalk Café). Hubby and I took photos of the Eiffel Tower in bleu, blanc, rouge yesterday evening and then sat out at a sidewalk café. I'm happy to say, it was packed full of people enjoying a drink before dinner.

Jennifer R. Donohue said...

EM: Robert Jordan did pick Branson Sanderson (I know this per a blog post or something he wrote prior to passing, if I remember right), and sat down with Mr. Sanderson and told him the rest of the story over the course of X nights by the fireside with Jordan's wife in attendance. He/they considered Sanderson quite close and trustworthy, and had every confidence in his finishing the series. (the fandom as I know it is split on that....)

A lot of people I know say things like "George R. R. Martin better not die before he's done", and while I can appreciate the sentiment, I still feel it's a goddamn cavalier thing to say. As Neil Gaiman so eloquently put it a few years back, "George R. R. Martin is not your bitch."

The idea of posthumous publishing is somewhat chilling. I've personally not been terribly thrilled with Brian Herbert's accompaniments to the Dune series (with Kevin J. Anderson's helping hand), and I'm not certain the Steig Larsson books are necessarily what they would have been, had he lived to see them through. My writing and my dog are the only reason thoughts of a will have even crossed my mind and even then, how airtight is a "no meddling" sort of declaration? My understanding is Emily Dickinson wanted her shit burned, and we know that didn't happen.

Susan said...

This one is really hard for me to read. I feel so bad for the one left behind--I understand what it must be like to want their loved one's dream realized, to fear like their passion and work might be in vain. Before I forget to say it, thank you, Opie, for sharing your question and compassion.

A few years ago, I had to write my will. I was in my late twenties, and before then, the thought had never even crossed my mind. Wills were for other people, older people, people with children and retirement funds and inheritance. I had my pets and my writing and rapidly declining health. I didn't know how long I would last and then, when I was finally diagnosed and started the hell that is treatment, I didn't know if I wanted to stay.

I was preparing myself. I spent every waking moment editing my first book and creating my business under which I'd self-publish it. This book was the only thing that fueled me forward, that gave me a future to look forward to. Wanting to see that dream realized, to hold my book in my hands, is what kept me going through the worst of it. Drugs can heal the body, but writing heals the soul.

That first year of treatment, I wrote a letter that contained my will. It was the hardest thing I've ever written, but it detailed for my family what to do with my writings. I only had that one book then--and a closet full of journals, poetry, short other words, a bunch of ramblings. But, still, those writings were a part of me, and, maybe selfishly, I wanted something of myself to leave behind. I still do.

This past summer, I relapsed after three years of treatment and nine months in remission. I didn't think I could go through that again, but I did, I am, because that's what you do--you keep fighting, and I'm not finished here yet.

By completing and sending out my second MS (which, ironically enough, is based on my experiences with this illness and the character's fear of being forgotten) and focusing on my third, my books have given me something to work towards, helping me to stay present and imagine a future. Words, along with my family and dogs, have saved me again.

I hadn't updated my will since that first iteration. It's hard to look at--hard to talk about, actually--but I know how necessary it is. This is your life's passion--art at the very least, a piece of yourself at the most. Nothing is guaranteed--not when or how, and especially not what's left behind or how it's cared for. But the will, at least, is a guidepost when loved ones may be scrambling in the dark.

OK, that's all I can write about this. It's too early to drink, right, or is it five o'clock somewhere?

Craig F said...

My, my. That doth well and truly suck. I mean that I have someone set up as power of attorney and I have a pre-probated living will and agents would just walk away because it is too much of a hassle for them?

If I set up a foundation with a nom de plume will it matter if I am still corporeal? Can they continue on with what I am doing or must it all wither on the vine?

BJ Muntain said...

Neil Gaiman once posted a very important blog post. A writer had passed on, leaving his literary estate a mess. He spoke to a lawyer - also a writer - who wrote up a sample will for writers.

Neil Gaiman's Journal: Important and pass it on

I'm sorry to say I haven't yet written my own will. I've started collecting items regarding my online presence, so if anything happens, at least people will know (I hope. As I said, I haven't written a will yet to tell anyone to do this.)

But I'm always reminded of a woman I knew who wrote essays and poetry. She'd never been published, as far as I know, but in the obituary she wrote for herself, she said she was a writer.

Her family had no idea what that meant. They said, "Oh, she had a notebook with some stuff in it, poems and such." I said, "You know, I'd like to look at it. Maybe I could look at getting it published (probably self-published) for the family." They said, "Oh no. It's not important."

Not important? I wanted to die of horror. But not before I write up a writer's will.

Tony Clavelli: I write science fiction, and I belong to a small writers group that meets online once a week. Two of us have been working together for about 14 years. The third joined the group about 11 years ago. We do get some coming and going, but the three of us have been working together 11 years now. Email me at bjmuntain at sasktel dot net if you're interested.

EM: I'm pretty sure this is handled by the author, though perhaps at the prodding of his industry partners (agent, publisher, editor).

I'm also pretty sure that, whether an author has made provisions, if they pass away before completing a highly successful series, then *someone* will be finishing it for them, chosen by editor/publisher, if not the writer themself. Even if this person has to go through hundreds of hand-written notes. Even if the publisher has to find someone completely new to write something from scratch to end a series. Look at what happened to Harper Lee - she's not even dead yet, but her trunk novel was resurrected. Another good reason to have a writer's will - and a living will, at that.

Colin Smith said...

I just re-read Janet's post (Typo Alert: Conundrum Part 2 and 3: "but it's not unheard off"), and after all this discussion of death, I read this line in a very different way:

"And one of these days I'll tell you the story from the other side: what happens when an agent kicks."

Now THAT would be an article worth reading...! :)

Karen McCoy said...

Echo Lynn. So tired this morning I almost didn't get up for some needed editing. Kick in the pants was welcome.

To echo EM, I'm also thinking of Eoin Colfer's posthumous addition to Douglas Adams's Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. And The Girl in the Spider's Web by David Lagercrantz.

Back to bed. So tired.

S.D.King said...

Just got news that a friend passed away unexpectedly, so this post finds me already shell-shocked.

Having said that, I am clearly not as generous as some others here, because the idea that I would be called on to continue the query process on behalf of another author is enough to send me screaming into the woods - or possibly curl in a ball and whimper. Isn't the writing life painful enough to do it for yourself, let alone an acquaintance?

And if an agent dies? I assume the manuscript becomes and "ophan" to be assigned to another agent who is already busy, didn't pick this novel, really doesn't care. That story probably doesn't have a happy ending.

BTW - did I thank Colin for the spreadsheet?

Janet Reid said...

Colin, that's hilarious. (but I am still among the circulating volumes in the Library of Life)
Thanks for alerting me to the typo.

S.D.King said...

Since I spelled "orphan" wrong, I couldn't resist looking up "ophan". Turns out that is the word for the wheels on God's chariot - something I was pondering just yesterday...

Ezekial gives a vivid description of that chariot and the wheels full of eyes. Ezekial 1:15

A sci-fi writer couldn't make up that stuff. Makes me glad I am on His side.

Panda in Chief said...

Time to update my poor excuse for a will. Mine is complicated by all of my paintings, and the ones at galleries too. I haven't even thought about my writing/ cartoons. I need some one younger and trustworthy to leave in charge of them. What a muddle!
It is true, whether we are young or old, we have no idea how much time we have left. I don't even know how much Inhave to untangle should I suddenly depart this world.
Susan, I hope you will be with us for a long time.

Colin Smith said...

Bruce pulled the Ouja board from the top shelf, where it gathered dust out of the reach of the kids.

"Looks serious," said Pru, watching from the kitchen. "What happened this time?"

"I was halfway through the final battle scene when she starts with her 'what the f*** is this??' I wish she would rattle a glass or throw a book like normal dead agents. It takes twice as long to write when I have to keep deleting her comments. We need a proper talk."

"You know, there's always Barbara Poelle," Pru said cautiously as she dried Bruce's favorite beer glass. "I mean, she did show interest in your first novel. And, well, she's still alive."

Bruce sighed.

"I wish, dear. But when Janet had me sign in blood, I had no clue. I thought it was just shark humor."


Dena Pawling said...

BJ – Your story about the writer's family saying “it's not important” reminded me of my father-in-law, a big bear of a man who actually looked like a twin of Grizzly Adams. He was a general contractor until he was in his 50s, but his heart wasn't in it. As an example, one day after work, the freeway was closed for reasons I don't remember, and there was so much traffic I couldn't get home [this is life in SoCal, unfortunately]. I drove to his house to kill a few hours, and found him at his dining room table butchering a deer. He was an interesting man.

He retired from contracting and for the last ten years of his life, he had his dream job running a ranch up in central CA, gold country. In fact, that property was right in the middle of the fire we had up there a few months ago. I learned from the current owner that he lost a bit of undeveloped land and one outbuilding, but the main ranch and all the animals survived. Anyway, when my FIL passed, I was the one who handled his estate. When I wrote the obituary, all of his family agreed to write that his occupation was rancher, because that's where his heart was.

Be sure your family knows where your heart is.

Laura Mary said...

I know that when Siobhan Dowd passed away after putting together only an outline and the bare bones of A Monster Calls, it was her publishers who contacted Patrick Ness and asked if he would write the story.
I think it would have been a very different story had Siobhan lived to write it, and it is certainly very different to the rest of Patrick Ness's work. It's an incredible book that manages to be both harrowing and healing at the same time. It should be given to every child dealing with the loss of a family member (and probably every adult too).

Stephen Parrish said...

And one of these days I'll tell you the story from the other side: what happens when an agent kicks.

One day soon, I hope.

Colin Smith said...

To Self: NO! Stephen didn't mean it like THAT!! Stop laughing!!! :)

Carolynnwith2Ns said...

On break, not much time.
Colin, legacy is the reason why I have saved every column and article of mine published. There's hundreds now and I keep them so my granddaughter and future kids can read them and not only learn what a wingnut I am but get a handle on what life was like why back when.
I matted and framed a few for the little one to hang in her room. Someday she can point out to her friends how famous she is because SHE made the papers.

As for my trunk novels and memoir, once I'm gone I'm gone. One daughter might cull through, but who knows, who cares.

Unknown said...

Sobering post but helpful. Like Colin, the last line made me do a double take. It made me imagine a ghost shark chuckling in front of her computer as she dropped the bombshell news.

Donnaeve said...

Susan, love this: "Drugs can heal the body, but writing heals the soul."

That ought to be our sub-header next week. Although there is a ton of them out here today.

LynnRodz - so glad to hear that these attacks will no sway the lifestyle of the French! Je suis en terrace - perfect.

Unknown said...

Lol, Colin. ..but wait...can we be sure of what Stephen meant?

And I want that t shirt.

Anonymous said...

What a heartbreaking situation. Very sad reading.

And I, too, was startled by that last line! If anyone could tell the story from the other side (of the grave), I bet it would be Janet.

I actually DID make a new Will and other assorted legal documents last spring, before my knee surgery. Not that I thought I was going to die, not then anyway, but you never know. Also, the old version provided for a situation I would have been deeply unhappy to leave behind. I used the language in Neil Gaiman's post (linked above). My attorney had never dealt with anyone who wanted a Creative Property Trust, so it was very helpful. I appointed my daughter as Trustee and have told her very specifically what my wishes are (which might not be the same as other writers' wishes). I do trust that she'll follow them. And then I sat down and made a very long list of passwords and access information. Oy. So much of life is online, from financial information to email to social media, it's staggering. None of this was easy. It's very difficult to talk to people who love you about how to handle your affairs after your death. I was surprised by how difficult and emotionally draining it was. But once it's done, it's a comfort. For all involved, I think.

Megan V said...

Opie here.

Thanks QOTKU for your insight. It's greatly appreciated.

And thanks to everyone for sharing their stories. Susan I was very moved by your comment today.

Colin Smith said...

Great and useful question, Megan. Thanks for asking. :)

LynnRodz said...

Susan, as Panda said, I hope you'll be with us a long time.

I'll have to echo Donnaeve. I want an edit button. I hate when I spell something in English when it should be in French and vice versa. The movement I was talking about is Je Suis En Terrasse and not Terrace. Sometimes I have to think twice when I spell apartment rather than appartement, etc. I'll blame it on not enough coffee this morning.

Lucie Witt said...

Interesting conversation.

I'd just add for anyone who considers a literary trust/creative property trust/etc for your published works, make sure you're talking to your attorney not just about the setup, but about the ongoing administration. It is good for your Trustee to know your wishes, and hopefully those are clearly reflected in the document. What your Trustee might not know is that trusts have to pay their own fiduciary taxes (often even if the income earned flows out to a beneficiary), and that's the kind of thing you want to make sure a loved one understands before the agree to take on a fiduciary role like Trustee.

E.M. Goldsmith said...

I agree with Donna on the sub-header nomination. Susan, I hope you are with us for a good long while. Stay strong. It sounds like you have an important tale to tell.

I too find writing to be cathartic and redeeming. I wrote my way right out of anorexia when I was young. My body never fully recovered (myopic heart, lots of missing organs) but I got my soul back. It was a lot like escaping Hell with the devil holding onto your heel.

I loved Colin's story. Great for a laugh. Should I be querying dead agents too? As usual some great advice from BJ and others. What a great knowledge base we have here. Even though this is a difficult question, I am glad Megan asked it.

Susan said...

I really appreciate all the kind words.

And Megan--thanks for asking this question. It's a hard but necessary reality that all artists should be reminded of--if the work is important to you in this life, you want to make sure it's cared for after. I'm sure your writing group member's loved one will appreciate the responses.

Matt Adams said...

I know this is popping in late, but here's my story.

My father passed away 15 years go. In addition to being a real estate developer, he was a writer. Or he wanted to be. He wasn't very good -- tended toward long speeches and angry plotlessness. But he wrote three novels. He tried, but never got an agent and nothing ever happened with them. One of them was sort of lost, but a distant relative found a copy and forwarded it to me, so I have the complete collected works of my father.

About two years ago, a friend was at a boat show, and she ran into friend of my dad's -- the guys is a charter-boat captain and the author of cruising guides to the Keys and that kind of thing. Anyway. this friend saw there was another book there -- self published, spiral bound, renamed, but it said it was written by this charter boat captain and my dad. The find picked it up and mailed it to me. It was one of my dad's books, trimmed a bit, but with my dad's picture on the back and a statement that he had died.

At first I got furious -- really mad. it even had me check with my father's third wife to see if she'd given permission. She hadn't. And I thought about legal action and all that jazz, but in the end I decided just to not worry about it. My dad's book is out there -- available only to people who stop by a booth at a boat show -- but it's out there. So I guess that's something.

But weird.

Her Grace, Heidi, the Duchess of Kneale said...

My mentor had an agent die on her. It can be a messy business.

I was in negotiations Way Back When with a screenplay agent who had a heart attack. Her doctor told her to cut back on her work load. (That included me, and several other prospectives.)

I am a woman whose life is governed by Plans. Everything that is important to me has a structured, written-out Plan. I got special project plans (ie a birth plan when I'm pregnant) and long-term plans: 5 year, 20 year, 50 year, thousand-year Plans.

A legal will is also a plan.

I've left detailed instructions regarding my creative works (books, music, etc), not so much what is to be done with them, but where everything is. (My heirs can do with it what they want, even ignore it if they so choose.) I explain everything from my personal filing system to my submissions tracker (Sonar by Spacejock Software). I have a password locker with all my online passwords and the key to that is included with the will.

I believe in making things easier for those I've left behind. I'm okay with death (mine or someone else's) but dealing with the aftermath of that death can be onery.

Anonymous said...

My youngest son Will James and I have a kind of unique relationship. A longtime friend of mine says he is a male clone of me, which may explain why we get along so well.

Will has encouraged me to write for years, but I used to write books for him when he was little. We had a wonderful collection of dinosaur books as well as some fun little adventure books. Basically, he's grown up with me writing and him cheering me on.

He came back from Iraq with an idea for a fascinating story based on some things that happened there. Life blew to pieces. Neither one of us wrote down the story and now neither of us can remember what it was. Keep a notebook handy at all times, children.

Anyway, he pretty much knows what I'm working on and what I'm doing, but would he be able to do anything with my books? Probably not. Only the children's books are stand alones.

He came over one day when I was sorting through some boxes and I said, "You know, son, someday all this will be yours."

"Stop threatening me, Mom or I'm not coming back to visit again."

That's probably the way he would feel about my writing even as much of a cheerleader as he is.