And now for the news.
Highlights from this month in the world of self-publishing:
Sometimes, a book is more than a book. Sometimes, a book is a way of connecting with tradition and the faith of one’s family. In the case of Brian Blum, self-publishing his father’s letters was a way to practice Kaddish, the Jewish prayer that both celebrates life and marks one’s passing. In an article published to The Jerusalem Post, Blum describes his father Walter Blum, a 35-year veteran of the San Francisco Chronicle, as a man who had dreamed of being a published author. “Every night after dinner, he would retire to his home office where he would diligently type away on his IBM Selectric, crafting his fiction until it was time for the evening TV sitcoms,” writes the younger Blum. Walter had left a nearly completed draft of his latest work-in-progress on his computer, which Blum’s brother emailed to him after he died age age 81. “What if I were to edit my father’s last book and publish it for him, posthumously?” Brian asked himself, a question which kicked off a nine-month editorial spree with many challenge along the way, and then a ten-year period where Blum let the novel be. Finally, after a conversation with Israeli poet Michal Govrin, Blum took the leap and self-published his father’s semi-autobiographical book. The moving conclusion to his article demonstrates what the freedom to write and the freedom to publish can truly offer at its best: a deeply personal connection to the work at hand. Writes Blum,
Dwelling in the imaginative world my father fashioned gave me new insights into his feelings on religion, his own parents, and following one’s passions. The fact that, like my father, I had originally hoped to launch a career in radio before turning to writing, only made the narrative of The Bell Tower more resonant.
I stopped saying the traditional kaddish before the first year was over. But in many ways, I’ve never stopped saying it. It’s just taken me 10 years and 103,000 words to convey it properly.
You’re going to have to give us a moment; there are tissues around here somewhere and we need them right now.
Not everything we express will be lasting or meaningful. Yet, when you choose to express something meaningful, be as authentic as you can be. That’s the only way you can profoundly make a difference for others. In the bigger picture, meaningful expression matters. Just saying.
Thus concludes Jon Ochiai’s recent article for the Good Men Project, a reflection on his decision to write and self-publish a book after his therapist suggested a rather different writing activity (some language included, fyi). Ochiai looked to his childhood, his Aikido training under Mizukami Sensei, and the film narratives that he loved to help shape his desire to write, and to write meaningfully. Ochiai’s article is a thoughtful, unexpected encouragement to those who know they have a story worth telling but aren’t quite sure that they should tell it. He writes honestly,
My book was not the fairy-tale bestseller. So far, I’ve sold a few dozen copies. Three of them I bought for Mom, Sensei’s wife, Alyce, and one for myself. Really, I shared my trials and tribulations for someone who could have been me. Someone who had experienced his or her life turbulence. I wanted that person to know that he or she is greater than they know themselves to be, to grind it out, to make it work. That was meaningful enough for me to say.
We are so inspired by Ochiai’s decision to self-publish! And we wish him and his new book the best as he continues to inspire others out there in the world.