too many words by laura lemay

creative legacy

Do you have a will? If you’re roundabouts my age (mid-(mumble)) sans kids chances are good you don’t. It’s one of those things that you probably don’t really think about, or don’t want to think about, or just can’t seem to get around to. Its on the To Do list, of course, cause its a Very Important Thing, but somehow it keeps getting bumped down below, say, Watch All the Mythbusters Reruns on the TiVo.

Raising hand guiltily: I don’t have a will. And I admit, I was way more guilty about this before Eric and I got married. Now its like a kind of magic fairy dust: if I randomly crash my bicycle and die, then at least the house and the cats are taken care of. I’m not so worried about specific bequeathments of stuff, although I should perhaps make arrangements for my comic books. Eric is not a comics geek. Dear Eric, if I am electrocuted while fixing the spa, please do not pitch my X-Men.

The one thing I honestly had no idea I was supposed to worry about was what to do with my literary intellectual property. Eg, if I cut off my hand and bleed to death tonight, what happens to all the crap I’ve written over the years? Not just the published tech books. This blog. All my essays and fiction. And about 20 megabytes worth of unpublished and mostly unfinished dumbness I’ve been carting around from computer to computer for twenty five years or so. I’m not claiming I have some fabulous unpublished novel lurking around here (ha ha) and that if I poison myself hunting for wild mushrooms in the back yard my family is going to squabble over the rights to make millions off of my unfulfilled potential. But all my work still has worth, and legally it counts just as much as my comic books or my cats in case of my death. I need to think about what’s going to happen to my work.

I found out about this because Neil Gaiman brought it up. It seems that John M. Ford, science fiction writer, died recently without leaving a will. And because of it his literary estate has turned into a huge problem for his family.

Neil and Les Klinger, a lawyer and author, collaborated and made a simple will for authors and other creative people. Its a PDF file. How you turn this document into a legal will varies from state to state but there’s some discussion of that in Neil’s post.

I’m going to bump this way up on my To Do list. Its a really good idea. At least then I’ll be OK if an SUV runs me over.