If I had only one year to live, how would I live differently?

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 knew he had a battle on his hands. He was completely broke at that time, and he didn’t have anything to leave behind for his wife, Lynne, soon to be a widow.

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 leaf.”*

In that time Burgess wrote energetically, finishing five and a half novels before the year was through (very nearly the entire lifetime output of EM Forster, and almost twice that of JD 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 (he is best known for A Clockwork Orange), he wrote more than 70 books, but without the death sentence from cancer, he may not have written at all.

*According to some versions, the brain tumour was a misdiagnosis, which Burgess came to know later.

More at https://inspiringy.blogspot.com/2015/12/if-i-had-just-year-to-live-how-would-i.html

John Anthony Burgess Wilson (1917-1993) was a British writer and composer best know for his dystopian novel A Clockwork Orange. Burgess wrote numerous other novels, screenplays, television mini-series, etc.,  and was a literary critic for several prestigious publications. A versatile linguist, Burgess lectured in phonetics and also composed over 250 musical works.

Postage stamp issued by Monaco in 2017 to mark the 100th anniversary of Anthony Burgess, who lived there with his wife and son from 1975 to 1993 and wrote many of his most well-received books. Image courtesy The International Anthony Burgess Foundation (https://www.anthonyburgess.org/)