Why Get Published?

A few weeks ago, I and my childhood friend Laker Winifred L received a note from our Publisher, Xlibris (USA) that our newly published book, Unsaid Words: Poetic Letters was already trending in more than 5 reputable Online Book Stores (Barnes and Nobles, Bigger Books, Booktopia, Feedbooks, Booksio and of course Xlibris)

In this collection of poetry, we reminiscence the inadequate open family spaces for dialogue in our families that if we had; it would have prepared us to become better parents.

Laker and I lost our Father(s) in our teenage years. In hindsight, we imagine that if our father(s) had lived long enough; maybe they would have inspired these open spaces for family dialogue.

Instead, our enlightened widowed mothers were more focused on our survival and education. Today, we are proudly educated, and published authors.

In 2016, I lost in an election to become the Mayor of Gulu Municipal then before it became a city. Ironically, I was more famous for my poverty than my ideas.

What shocked me, was the celebration by poor market women who preferred a rich illiterate as compared to an educated poor candidate. They sang, danced and jubilated over what they referred to as wrestling the degree in mud.

The premise of my election bid was on prioritising the education of their children through financing their informal businesses using the microfinance model.

I wondered why they would continue to struggle to educate their children if they detest education that much.

Later, I published my first memoir detailing these unique experiences titled, “My Mayor. The Political Campaign Story of a Poor Elite and Rich Illiterate.

From this publishing experience, I learnt three (3) valuable lessons that I am happy to share with you.

My first lesson was getting published will win you Respect/Reverence. When I lost the elections, I was greatly humiliated and felt depressingly frustrated. I felt abandoned and lonely especially by people I considered close friends and associates. I was a subject of ridicule in every informal grouping in my hometown.

Despite holding an American Master degree as a Joan B.Kroc Fellow, no one even saw the need to invite me to any community  peace and justice workshop even as I felt most qualified.

However, when I finally got published and started telling my educated story; I regained all that I had lost in my community.

I was the one guaranteed a seat at every popular funeral rite and had unending speaking engagements on community radio talk shows.

Workshops became my main career and source of livelihood. Getting published earned me, my respect and restored the dignity that politics stole from me.

Secondly, getting published will earn you the recognition and fame of a successful person, only if you are ready to deal with fame.

Legendary Writers like Okot p’Bitek, a Ugandan poet is more famous for his writings, Song of Lawino and Song of Ocol in 1966 and 1970 respectively than for being in the Uganda National Football Team that played barefooted and won against Britain.

Therefore, fame like writing is not for everyone, but for an exclusive few who are ready to be defined by their intellect.

Okot p’Bitek’s contemporaries Writers like Ngugi Wa Thiongo, Wole Soyinka, Chinua Achebe will never be defined by their wealth but by the fame and recognition they received after being published.

Finally, Writing is a legacy. Getting published will give you a legacy that will outlive your lifetime. Legacies are how we want to be remembered when we are dead.

How do you want to be remembered 100 years after you are dead? Getting published is the only way to stand for yourself to defend your interest and actions 100 years after you are dead, buried and weathered to soil.

Getting published will keep a record of who you are and what you stood for while you lived. It is not enough to give your children your name to be remembered. It is only befitting, if you published that name on a book cover.

A grave is like a library. The tomb on your grave is like the seal on the record of your life that has been incremated to ashes; never ever be found unless you left behind published works.

The Author(Aliker p’Ocitti) is a published poet and memoirist who is passionate about mentoring young writers.

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