Tuesday, April 20, 2010

What happens when you die?

After my death, I won't care what happens to my writing. But I'm not dead yet, and I do worry.

My will--such as it is--doesn't designate anyone to care for my literary estate. Who in my family comprehends copyright law well enough to understand the 1,000+ contracts, letters of agreement, acceptance letters, and other correspondence related to the assignment of various rights that I'll leave behind? Who in my family comprehends publishing well enough to seek publication or republication of existing manuscripts? Will they see my bulging filing cabinets as a potential--albeit small--income source into the future, or will they simply see a room full of paper and old magazines and books no one has read that must be discarded before my home can be sold?

And how often do the files of workaday writers--those who publish regularly but lack the fame of a bestselling writer or the renown of a multiple-award-winning writer--disappear when the writers die? How much literary trash and literary treasure has been lost because writers like me failed to find someone--anyone--willing and able to care for their literary estates?

And why do I even care? After all, I'll be dead.

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