I’m rereading Foundation right now – probably the book I’ve reread the most.
My copy has brittle, yellowed pages with the slightly uneven typesetting you see from older books.
It’s so old, Salvor Hardin’s line is the vastly superior, “the Galaxy is going to pot!” – something they changed after a few editions.
I wonder how much it shaped my worldview.
How wisdom beats savagery, how decay wants to destroy its own salvation, how a tiny, barren speck of a world can deflect the course of history…
It got me thinking.
Asimov was famously prolific. The dude could write like nobody’s business. Through a sheer tide of high-quality quantity, he redefined the science fiction genre.
There’s also another story from his life.
Ol’ Isaac saw a lot of himself in Hari Seldon – the genius in Foundation who launches a project that spares the galaxy from 29,000 years of anarchy and misery.
Seldon dies early in the story – off-screen, as it were. It’s not his story, but the story of what he left behind.
Later, Asimov wrote more about Seldon’s life – fleshing it out and stitching the Foundation setting in with his robots series.
He was able to write more about this character who was so much a part of him.
He wrote about his funeral.
And he didn’t live long after that.
You could say the timing was a coincidence. Or that he knew, consciously or not, that his days were short, so he finished his work in what time he had left.
I’ll admit, both of those explanations are likely.
But there’s another:
He grieved for the death of his character – the death of himself in fiction-form.
As a writer, I can’t help but think about this. I mean, Miyamoto Musashi died not long after (or towards the end of?) writing his magnum opus too.
I’m sure you can think of other examples, from writing or otherwise, where the last thing a creator did was create something great or meaningful.
I know what the joke answer to that is.
“Never create anything great – it’s dangerous!”
At least, I hope that’s a joke. It’s 2020 and lots of folks have strange ideas around danger.
If you’re like me, though?
That sounds beautiful.
We all die sometime. I plan to create my whole life – I can’t retire from it because it’s a part of me.
The thought of pouring the last of my essence into something sounds sublime. It’s the writer’s equivalent of dying gloriously in battle, I suppose.
You’ll hear a lot more on this in January and February 2021. I have big plans – colossal plans, in fact.
I can’t wait to share them with you.
In the meantime?
If you’d love to feel that about something – to be happy to give your last breath to your creation – but you don’t feel that way about anything…
I think this could help you.
And if not?
You’ll find 60 new ways to enjoy yourself, pass the time and become more interesting: