• Mark T. Whitten

Self-Publishing for Legacy

Updated: Jan 27

So you may not be the greatest writer or painter or musician. But you are a creator whether you like it or not. You were born that way. You have that little kernel of fire in your belly called Imago Dei.


So why not make a record of who you are, before you become who you were?


We all want to be remembered. We all want to bring an answer to the world. We cannot repent of this desire.


I started self-publishing years ago when I started to journal. I thought to myself, at the very least, my children or grandchildren could rummage through my dusty, old journals and get to know me, even if I'm gone. Maybe one of them will need to do a report in school about one of their weird ancestors? Let's face it, not even our children or our spouses fully know who we are. It's the things we write to ourselves that disclose who we are.


I've been enjoying a sabbatical of sorts the last few months where I have been fortunate enough to publish some of the things that I've been working on over the years. It has been a very satisfying experience. During the process I've been thinking to myself that there's a lot more-than-meets-the-eye to this publishing thing.


Not only am I making my thoughts and inspirations available to the public or anyone else with the slightest interest, I am recording little pieces of who I am for my posterity. I'm actually making history with my words...with my creations...with those crystalized moments of meaning and inspiration.


Let's face it, if it's not recorded...it's not history. What sets historical figures apart from those we have no recollection of is a matter of record. I taught American history for the better part of 11 years as a middle school public school teacher. My students often asked me, "How do we know all of this history happened?" My answer was always the same, "Primary Sources."


In case you're a little rusty on your educational research terms, primary sources are immediate, first-hand accounts of a topic, from people who had a direct connection with it.


They can include: Texts of laws and other original documents, newspaper reports, by reporters who witnessed an event or who quote people who did, speeches, diaries, letters and interviews - what the people involved said or wrote, original research, datasets, survey data, such as census or economic statistics,

photographs, video, or audio that capture an event.


As you can see, there are a variety of methods we can employ for recording our little lives. We are fortunate, unlike our ancestors, that we live in a day where self-publishing is so accessible...so possible. There's really no excuse for any of us not to leave a record of our lives behind for those will soon follow. Whether its digital or analog, whether we think our lives are unimpressive or not, our descendants will want to know us.


One of the things that I missed growing-up is not having either of my biological grandfathers around. They both died before I had a chance to meet them. I would have been overjoyed to find a trunk full of old journals, photos and/or audio/video material containing their musings about life, love, God, favorite foods, places they'd been, etc. To be fair, my mother's father did leave some things behind: a few photos, his dog tags, cuff-links, a couple of little log-books of expenditures, coins, and a lighter. I treasured those tiny tokens of his life, and even made a memory box as a gift for my mother, but it just wasn't enough to get to know him.


I want my posterity to know who I was when I leave this world. I want them to take inspiration from my words. To be encouraged by my quotes. I want them to laugh when they see silly pictures of me and wonder what it must have been like to know me. I want them to know it's okay to doubt and to suffer. I want them to know that God was a mainstay in my life and that He was always relevant and loving even when I was quite unloveable. I want them to witness and observe how my thoughts changed and stayed the same over the years of my life.


In short, I want to be remembered. Not for ego's sake. For love's sake. Because of each of us have some spark, some beautiful image to give to the world. Some meaningful piece to add to the story of human history.


That's why I publish. That's why you should too.

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