Thursday, January 14, 2010

Measuring success

I’m a day late in getting this post up because part of what I wanted to write about took place last night. I went to an event put on by the Friends of the Library (has to be a good group; “library” and “friends” are both good words). It was a presentation about a woman, a writer, named Kitty Crockett Robertson, who was a lifelong resident of Ipswich.

She wrote a wonderful book called The Orchard about her experiences trying to keep her family’s farm running during the Depression. It’s a celebration of place and the people in it. Years later she wrote a column for the local paper, sharing other stories from her life and observations of the world around her. They have been collected in another book, called Measuring Time by an Hourglass.

Two of her friends read excerpts from these essays and shared memories of her. Audience members, many of them also longtime townies, shared their own stories of a woman’s kindnesses that they remember even thirty years after her death. Listening, I couldn’t help but think that she had created quite a legacy through both her writing and her acts.

It made me think of another writer I read about a few days ago. Patrick Rothfuss is the author of the fantasy novel, The Name of the Wind (2007). It’s the first of a trilogy, so we’ll hear much more from the writer, and that makes me smile (even though I haven’t read the first book yet—it’s on my Goodreads list). He let success go to his head in a most delightful way and started a fundraiser for Heifer International on his blog. Last year, according to the blog, he raised $114,000 through a variety of auctions, lotteries and items for purchase, and the goal for this year’s effort—which ends tomorrow (January 15)—is to outstrip that amount.

If you hurry, you can still get in on the action.

Rothfuss has put a lot of effort into this venture, gathering books, manuscripts and other donations from writers and publishers as well as offering his own services critiquing work or naming a character after someone in his upcoming novel, not to mention matching gifts and putting his money where his heart is.

Once again, I have to think that he is creating a legacy—even as he is creating his fantasy worlds and building his career.

Of course, reaching out and helping is much on my mind this week after the earthquake in Haiti, so I am happy to be inspired by these writers, one from the past, one looking toward the future, both with the Good in mind.


“I must admit that I personally measure success in terms of the contributions an individual makes to her or his fellow human beings.”
– Margaret Mead

1 comment:

  1. Such a great post- and reading it was a perfect way to begin Martin Luther King day.