Monday, January 7, 2008

Publish! Publish! Publish!

By Liz Adair

You can tell by the tenseness around the lips and jaw that the smile is forced. He stands there, your latest offering held between thumb and forefinger with the title, "Johooser Fornbloot's Early Years" rippling in the breeze. Never mind that old Johooser was his third great grandfather, and that the biography (complete with pictures) you have pressed on him cost you $3.00 to print, he doesn't seem to appreciate either the time invested or the layout of money to run off fifty copies on archive-quality paper.

Never mind. Press away. Research, write, publish and distribute! Keep it up, no matter how glazed the eyes of your kin-public. For, though this particular relation might not even read your offering, he probably won't throw it away. Blood and guilt will keep him from doing that. He'll put it in a pile of things that he intends to read, or he'll file it with other family history stuff. Fifty years later, when his black-clad grandson is weepily sorting through his things, your bio of this now-fifth-great-grandfather will surface, and Grandson will shout, "Hey, look at this!"

Like a good wine, your ten page, stapled-in-the-corner, footnoted, annotated biography will have increased in value with each passing year. It will be a treasure to some historian, whether he's researching the Fornbloots, or early settlers of Peetlepaw County, or craziest patent applications in the nineteenth century. You may be long gone, or staring vacantly in some Alzheimer's unit, but your legacy to the world will be enlightening circles you never dreamed of.

So, keep it up! Whether it's your own history or an ancestor's, write it, publish it, and spread it around. Don't let any less-than-enthusiastic receptions deter you. You're not giving it to this generation, anyway. You're giving it to generations yet unborn, and they will bless your name.

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