Barb Caffrey's Blog

Writing the Elfyverse . . . and beyond

The Importance of Wills for Writers

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Over the past several weeks, I’ve been trying to get a few projects back up and running.  These projects, some of them years in the making, have become stalled out not for lack of interest, but because of the lack of time I’ve had to spend on them.

This can be frustrating, mostly because I have more stories than I have energy to work with — and partly because I have the sense that I’m running out of time.

Mind you, I’m going to keep working on the various projects.  But the idea of running out of time needs to be discussed . . . and as I’m here, I guess I’m the lucky one who gets to discuss it.

Don’t think that just because you’re not in your dotage that you still have plenty of time.  Because maybe you don’t.

Consider, please, that my husband Michael died before he was able to become known as a fiction writer (though after he and I had sold one story, this a SFWA qualifying sale).  The stories he left behind are ones I’m trying to keep alive, because they’re really good stories and I want them to see the light of day.

Then consider that my best friend Jeff also died before he was able to become known as a fiction writer.  And then further consider that his stories — which were thoughtfully sent to me by his brother — will never be published, or finished either, because he didn’t get time to flesh them out.

And because, unlike my late husband, Jeff did not have an inheritor.

Kristine Kathryn Rusch wrote a post about how important it is for a writer to have a will — no matter how “unimportant” that writer may be, and no matter how unknown his or her work, your literary estate matters.  (Yes, she wrote it last November.  But the advice still applies.)  This is why we all should sit down and make wills if we possibly can.

Bare minimum, we really should start thinking about it.

I’ve already lost two men in their mid-forties who mattered a great deal to me.  I’ve only been able to “save” the output from one writer — my husband — and I’m not even sure where all of his files are.  (I just believe I can reconstruct them if they’re unable to be found, because I knew Michael so well.)  His writing will live on, partly because we’d discussed things and I knew what he wanted done . . . and partly because I’m too damned stubborn to just give up on them.

But my friend Jeff’s writing will not.  And that saddens me greatly.

Please, folks.  For the love of God/dess and little green apples, if you are a writer of any sort (including a musical composer), figure out who you want to be the executor of your literary estate.  Then sit down with your chosen executor, discuss what you will need done after you pass from this earth, and make sure that the person you’ve picked not only understands your wishes, but wants to be your executor . . . then make out your will accordingly.**

That way, whoever ends up being your inheritor will have as good of an idea as possible as to what, exactly, you want done with your literary estate.  Because otherwise, who knows what will happen?

So don’t take the chance.  Figure out what you want done with your words, and make out that will as soon as you possibly can.

If you do that in a timely manner, your words will have a chance to live on.

And a chance beats no chance at all.  Doesn’t it?

————

I’d be remiss if I didn’t point out that  Neil Gaiman blogged about this very issue a few years ago due to the problems that occurred after writer John M. Ford passed away. Gaiman’s post on the subject includes a simple PDF form will that should get you pointed in the right direction.

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Written by Barb Caffrey

March 29, 2013 at 4:00 am

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