One Year To Live

Morning Story and Dilbert

Vintage Dilbert
October 30, 2014

Anthony Burgess was 40 when he learned that he had only one year to live. He had a brain tumor that would kill him within a year. He know he had a battle on his hands. He was completely broke at the time, and he didn’t have anything to leave behind for his wife, Lynne, soon to be a window.

Burgess had never been a professional novelist in the past, but he always knew the potential was inside him to be a writer. So, for the sole purpose of leaving royalties behind for his wife, he put a piece of paper into a typewriter and began writing. He had no certainty that he would even be published, but he couldn’t think of anything else to do.

“It was January of 1960,” he said, “and according to the prognosis, I had a winter and spring and summer to live through, and would die with the fall of the leaves.”

In that time Burgess wrote energetically, finishing five and a half novels before the year wad through.  Very nearly the entire lifetime output of E.M. Forster, and almost twice that of J. D. Salinger.

One year to live, but Burgess did not die. His cancer had gone into remission and then disappeared altogether. In his long and full life as a novelist, best known for “A Clock-work Orange”, he wrote more than 70 books without the death sentence from cancer.

Many of us are like Anthony Burgess, hiding greatness inside, waiting for some external emergency to bring it out. Ask yourself what you’d do if you had Anthony Burgess’s original predicament. ” If I had just a year to live, how would I live differently? What exactly would I do?”

Author Unknown - Please comment if you know the author
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  1. Reblogged this on Survivor and commented:
    Just saw on my friends coffee table. Noah Levine


    • MTJames said:

      Do you mean I’m not alone in my compulsion to edit? Hmmm, psychology must have a name for such a disorder.


      • kiwiskan said:

        guilty I’m afraid – I have trouble reading anything without editing it in my mind. Comes from belonging to too many critique groups…


  2. ksh said:

    Without a sense of urgency, what magnificence may be lost?


  3. I would write and sing my songs. So what am I waiting for, I have to do it now. Like Wayne Dyer says ,”Don’t die with the songs still in you.” I have a lot of songs still in me both literally and figuratively. To tell you the truth, I’ve been ailing and wanting to give up. You have made me see that I just can’t. God bless you!


  4. Wonderful posts! Perfect for me to read while I enjoy breakfast 🙂 thank you for passing by as well


  5. With my energy flagging as the afternoon wears on, Anthony Burgess’ story gave me a lift. The vintage Dilbert is excellent too!


  6. Makes me wonder if Brittany Maynard has thought of this instead of singing the euthanasia song!?


  7. hi! thanks for dropping by my blog =) this is awesome! I’m looking forward to reading more of your write ups =)


  8. That was beautiful!
    What would I do?
    I would publish the book that is currently sitting in my closet. Finished.


  9. Wow!!! That so describes me, well, not the dying bit. But I have things I dream of doing and I am not doing them. Inspired.


  10. I have often thought about just such a dilemma. Still thinking though…
    Best wishes, Pete.


  11. The motivation to write is often encouraged in early years as creative story writing. Yet for some reason is overshadowed by other priorities in life. With the right opportunity, such great hidden buried treasures resurface to make the best novels to inspire others. What the devil meant for evil GOD always turns into Greater Good to bless others. So keep writing and never underestimate GOD’S Given Talent in you. Thanks for following


  12. Sandra said:

    I never knew that. Amazing! Lesson is, live life like you only have one year to live, and then enjoy the years that follow.


  13. Wow! I never knew that. What an amazing story. I just started three blogs in one week. Maybe I sort of feel this way….


  14. Great writing and very inspiring to do what you like. Also, very sobering to know that we all can be that person as we don’t have a contract with God as to how long we are going to live.


  15. dbp49 said:

    Here I’ve read several of this man’s books, and I had no idea. Thank-you so very much for a great article.


  16. mtetar said:

    God is good. Happy New Year Everyone! Be Blessed, Mtetar


  17. Reblogged this on quirkywritingcorner and commented:
    I often talk to someone who says they’d like to write, but don’t believe themselves to be a writer. I encourage them to write something and see what happens. I also believe that all of us have a book inside.


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