You will find as you know me better that I have a deep fascination for other cultures and traditions. Japanese culture is bold, simple, stylish and minimal without compromising rich and colourful intensity. As you follow my series (please) you will find that essentially my characters come from a variety of backgrounds. Their interactions reflect this and I hope the diversity adds flavour to my stories.
The word henkou comes from the Japanese. It means alteration, a change or a modification but not a dismissal of previous ideas. A lot of literature coming my way continues to put an almost disparaging slant on both eBooks and self-publishing, and it niggles. I get that there is a certain status involved with publishing houses choosing you, and I also comprehend the beauty of the printed page. On the other hand I can’t deny the evidence to show eBooks form an essential and increasingly important part of every retailer’s inventory.
My kindle is almost ten years old so eBooks have been a part of my life for a long time. I’m not alone in this. I read somewhere that romance readers can read a book a day. Reading gives knowledge, reading gives pleasure and reading provides time away to recoup from the harsh reality of the world. Reading can also be expensive and eBooks are considerably cheaper to acquire. I am grateful for this possibility. It widens my purchasing power.
I still buy the traditional book. I still love the feel and smell of the printed copy. Nothing can replace the thrill of the page turn. It provides a solid vehicle of transportation to magical places when coupled with beautiful images. As a teacher I find it sad that technology has replaced the textbook in the classroom but I don’t underestimate its value to the learning process. I had to alter my thinking. At a practical level I have arthritis in my hands and a kindle is so much easier to manipulate. It holds a tremendous amount of books yet weighs almost nothing, and takes up very little space. For many of us the convenience of eBooks has meant more shoes and clothes in our bags at holiday time.
I am not sure the eBook is the problem. To me it seems the relationship the eBook has to self-publishing is the real culprit. It is the discord centre. The online ease of self-publishing means not all books are subject to stringent quality control. It also means quality or not, the huge amount of books flood an already crowded marketplace. However, there are some pretty awful, traditionally published books out there (perfect grammar and all). Instead of resisting change we need to adjust our thinking to finding ways to improve what happens in that market place. The eBook is here to stay. Self-publishing is here to stay. Let’s find a way to make it work instead of casting aspersions. I womder why traditionalists seem to have a problem with henkou?
The world of the word is no longer ruled by an elite and privileged few. Those critical of indie authors seem to forget that this means readers now have an amazing diversity of works to choose from. EBooks go one step further, they offer the wonderful opportunity to sample before you buy. Henkou thinking here encourages trust in our readers, enough trust to believe they are smart enough to weed out what isn’t good. Reviews serve a great purpose, not to destroy an author’s confidence or boost it falsely, but to encourage a change for the better in their writing. I know my novel had some grammar issues and I have taken on board comments and adjusted accordingly. It still won’t make it everyone’s taste but the fact I police my work as do so many others, counts in giving the publication credibility. We need to value this.
I am the worst traveller. Motion sickness is my middle name. Once in Morocco I got so sick I had a black tongue. Don’t ask. Fortunately, a fellow tour member was a doctor. The crossing back to Spain was a nightmare. I threw up enough for a lifetime even when the sea was still (never happened, I swear). Yes, I still travelled after that horrible experience. Why? Because, I went to Casablanca. Anyone who is a Humphrey Bogart fan will not ask silly questions at this point. So why the travel discussion?
Travel was and is an obsession but I lost count of the times I wished I was the one in charge of the boat, the bus or the train. Having responsibility pushes weakness aside. Performances rise when others are at risk. My altered perception shows me indie authors have chosen to be in the driver’s seat despite suffering nausea. Captaining a small boat on a changeable sea is considered brave. I may never be a success in the traditional sense, both in publishing terms and life but my modified thinking measures things differently. I have always trusted in the reader out there but my altered self demands I trust even more. When I came across my beautiful word I took it on board as a sign to alter my responses and the result has been unexpected. Thank you, Robert Okaji, for your wonderful blog O at the Edges, and for the post that led me to henkou. A tweak in our thinking brings peace of mind, and an improvement to our lives.