Saturday, 15 April 2017
Leaving a legacy
The books I write I leave in the care of my daughter, Jana Steyn. The legacy will live on. These books don't have to be published or sold. They don't have to achieve a 'top-ten best seller' list or any awards. They only need to be passed on.
My dad loved books. I still have both his encyclopedia sets and some of his classic novels. He nourished our minds from a very young age, all because of his passion for books and knowledge.
There's nothing wrong in trying to do things on a creative level. It just defines who we are. I used to sketch and paint, but I loved writing more. Now, my daughter paints. It was Henri Matisse who said, "Creativity takes courage".
So, we move forward, from one year to the next, curious of what we may achieve. It's curiosity that keeps us going. The only thing we need to ask is: what exactly are we curious about?
Too many people do things to achieve recognition: fame and fortune. They pursue happiness as if it's a goal they can achieve somewhere at the top of a ladder. Anne Frank didn't write her diary for fame and fortune. She wrote out of necessity. She only became famous after her death. One of my favourite poets is Emily Dickinson. She wrote more than 1800 poems, but only seven of her poems were published before she died.
When people hear about my books, they ask so many questions. Who published the book? How many books have been sold? How much money has been made? These questions just prove how shallow people are. They don't understand the essence of who I am.
I write because I enjoy writing. I don't have any plans or goals for my work because I'm writing for fun. It makes me happy. It's rewarding to know that I can finish what I initially started. I don't search for happiness. I live in the moment and all those moments of enjoyment create a book. You have to enjoy what you do, otherwise it's just a form of punishment. I would never be able to sit down and write a book with the aim of achieving recognition.
When I look at my great-grandmother's Bible, which was passed on to my father and then to me, I realize how important it is to leave something of ourselves behind. She wrote down the names of her family in the Bible. Her handwriting is preserved as long as the Bible is preserved. My father also wrote a message in the Bible. This inspired me to leave something behind, too. I have about 14 diaries, which were written over three decades. I have given them to Jana. She has read all of them and found them to be extremely inspirational.
I want my books and poems to stay in the family. Because I teach, my sole purpose of writing is to leave a legacy. I don't want to write full-time. I've always believed this and will continue to say it: first and foremost, I am a teacher. I was born to teach. Writing is a hobby, not my career. When I retire there will be more time to write. Perhaps then, when I have the luxury of time, I will be able to write more substantial work.
Now, all I have is a passion for writing, so, whenever I can, I will write.