This year I have returned to university to study English and creative writing. Consequently I have been buried under a pile of poems, novels and plays for months. And do you know the one theme that is constant throughout the majority of these works?
The immortality of writers.
Yes, we have joined the ranks of those who shall never die simply because our words will live on long, long after our earthly remains have turned to dust.
Do you know why writers are immortal?
Because the literary devices used to create imagery are not only beautiful, eloquent and original, but are memorable- to the point that over 400 years later, we are still studying and enjoying Shakespeare.
Let’s look at Romeo and Juliet – the famous balcony scene (2.2.2...23) in which Romeo speaks of Juliet’s beauty.
But soft, what light through yonder window breaks?
It is the East, and Juliet is the sun.
Arise, fair sun, and kill the envious moon,
Who is already sick and pale with grief
That thou, her maid, art far more fair than she...
As daylight doth a lamp; her eye in heaven
Would through the airy region stream so bright
That birds would sing and think it were not night.
Now, tell me you didn’t swoon a little at that?
Look at that amazing imagery–the moon is personified and is jealous of a mortal woman’s beauty that shines so brightly that the moon is non-existent in comparison. In fact, Juliet is so beautiful to Romeo that her radiance could fool the birds that daylight has arrived as her divine image lights up the night sky. Wow! All in a mind-blowing 70 words.
As a writer I get so caught up on plot, pace, structure and characterisation – showing and not telling- and all the other ‘rules’, that I often don’t prioritise the power of a beautifully written sentence or phrase. Have you ever read something so lovely that you had to go back and read it over again? I’ve spent most of this semester doing that with the various forms of literature I’m studying. So, while I haven’t done one scrap of writing for far too long, I am learning—from the masters—about the construction, and importance of beautiful prose. I am not saying that anyone will be able to quote my work 400 years from now the way we do the Bard, but as writers our words are immortal. They will live on long after we are gone, and the thought of someone (maybe 100 years from now) liking a line I wrote so much that they have to read it twice gives me goose bumps.
So, writers, remember this: what you write and publish today will still be around in 100 years time, being appreciated by a new audience—an audience that hasn’t even been born yet. It will make readers laugh, smile, cry and be grateful that they have passed the time enjoying a good book.
And that’s what makes you, the writer, immortal.