"Where else would you go when you have an ax to grind?"

Friday, June 29, 2012

We have a special guest

Members of the congregation, your attention please! We have our first ever guest post from none other than our spiritual leader of the moment aka Our Man in Abiko:

Dearly beloved, agents provocateur, lost sheep, members of the choir and the Rev. Paperboy,

Our Man wanted to make the purpose of this sermon crystal clear lest there be any ambiguity. He is not speaking to you in his capacity as Spiritual Leader of the Moment, a moment he might add has gone on for far too long already, but as just another shadowy internet silhouette flogging yet another ebook. 

That said, he trusts you will appreciate that he won't actually get round to the point of self-promotion until the very end of this post, in the meantime, he proposes to wrap himself in the flag of the greater good, as all great authors do when they are invited to wax lyrical about their area of expertise and just happen to mention that their latest overpriced literary doorstopper is available from this website here or that stack-em-high emporium there, if you'd just like to sign up for an email junk mail feed newsletter...

No. He will not do that. Instead he will tell you a little story.

Once upon a time there was a journeyman journo who decided to jump from his minor position in a small time provincial UK paper before he was pushed big time. He ended up back in Japan teaching English by day and writing twisted, drunken and occasionally funny blog posts by night. He didn't have much to say, but he enjoyed saying it. And little by little, he built up a small but well-connected following. He didn't know where it was going, but he hoped it would somehow benefit him in the future for his highly unoriginal and equally unlikely goal of publishing a novel.

Then the earthquake struck on March 11th, 2011, and although he was on the outskirts of the disaster, away from any newsroom and far from Fukushima or the tsunami zones, a dormant journalistic instinct woke up long enough to bite him in his his ass in the shower one morning, a week after the quake:

I've got email. I've got a (bootleg) word processor program. I've got a twitter feed. I'll edit a book of earthquake experiences and flog it to raise money for charity. In a week.

So he did. The rest is history. How exactly the $50,000 raised was spent by the Japan Red Cross, he doesn't know. Exactly how many copies of the book have been sold, he doesn't know. How much genuine suffering was relieved by the book, he has no idea.

But he does know this: It was absolutely worth doing. As an imperfect record of the impact of the earthquake on a nation -- absolutely. As a way for folk to express their true feelings -- absolutely. As an expression of what is possible by anyone with a good idea and a twitter feed -- absolutely.

As a tool for self-promotion? Absolutely not.

And yet, here he is rehashing his glory days on Quakebook. Isn't that a form of selling out and cashing in? He hopes it isn't. 

In his defence he can only say this: that bloody earthquake was the biggest thing to happen to Japan in his lifetime. And Our Man was there. He still is. To not write about the biggest event in a generation for fear that someone might think he was cashing in was as absurd as a relief worker refusing to give out any of 25 bags of rice because there were 30 people starving. To write for free is not tenable, not for a pro, no matter how middling and imperfect he may be. 

The only absolute purity is in doing nothing.

Our Man is not about doing nothing. If you are interested in the story of a half-British, half-Japanese natto-loving ramen waitress helping an American father search for his abducted daughter in Japan in the days of the earthquake, tsunami and nuclear meltdown, Our Man has just the book for you. If you are not; if you think this is cashing in, then please, in all seriousness, do not buy Hana Walker's Half-Life 2:46.

Much obliged, my fellow lost sheep, now back to your regular moral leader, the Reverend Paperboy.

Our Man in Abiko


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