Impact and Legacy. A Memoriam For a Man I Never Met.

Paul Haines is dead. I never met him. Part of his legacy, however, is that you can read what I’m writing now.

Paul was a writer, and a very good one, who I got to know, to an extent, through LiveJournal. Regrettably, it was after he was diagnosed with the cancer that went on to kill him, on March 5th, 2012, but his account of his striving to survive and his continuing desire to write and be a father and a family man had a great effect upon me. Sadly, it didn’t remove my love of subordinate clauses but my own fiction is now a far more Australian fiction – a more authentic expression of myself. I told him that it was an embarrassment that it took a New Zealander to show me how to be Australian. I’m happy in that I was able to tell him this while he was still alive and awake, before he slipped deeper down and went. I’m sad in that we agreed to share a beer one day, me hoping that it would come to pass and him knowing that it was a ghost’s promise. I’m sad that he leaves behind a wife and young daughter. And I’m angry at cancer but, then, I’m always angry at cancer.

I have always considered my legacy to be my students and my friends. I have no children of my own and cats don’t last forever. The extent to which I now feel the loss of a man I never met reminds me, not that I should need it, that honest writing, regular writing, naked writing is a legacy of its own. Part of Paul’s legacy is here, on this page as you read it, as well as in his books and on-line writing.

If you’re reading this, then you know I write – but do you? What do you want to say to the world? They say that “The first Velvet Underground album only sold 10,000 copies, but everyone who bought it formed a band.” I wonder how many people we can get to write? Paul’s struggle, his account of his life, his works and his untimely death, foreshadowed as it was for so long, touched me and led me to write. To finally start putting things out there. Not because I have anything that amazing to say but because I have anything to say at all.

You don’t know when and you don’t know where. Do you have something to write? Do you have anything to say? Share it with us all, please. We may hate it, it may scare us – or it might inspire another person. More impact. A legacy.

Tomorrow I will fly home. As I approach New Zealand, Paul’s birthplace, and as I leave it and head towards his adopted home, I’ll raise a glass for that beer we never had and toast his memory. And when I land, I look forward to reading your writings.

RIP: Paul Richard Haines 8 June 1970 – 5 March 2012



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