Jacob Asher wants you to write for him

"I think that enjoying life is very important," said Ashland artist Jacob Asher. "If you're not enjoying it, then what's the point?" At 27, recently married and a new father, Asher is enjoying life to the hilt. And he is celebrating that fact through a new literary journal he is starting.




The unique pitch about "the Option," Asher's publication, is for it to be totally anonymous. Asher's editorial policy is to publish all submissions, as received, without any credit whatsoever. Consider it an experiment, and then consider Asher's philosophy behind it.




"I always wanted to create a catalyst to allow creative expression. There are so many things our standard form media; newspapers, TV, etc., that are really restrictive. Like a magazine has to sell ads just to stay afloat," said Asher, whose publication is self-financed and may grow through equally anonymous donations.




Asher points out: "If someone writes something that offends an advertiser they may pull funding and then that writer may or may not have a job there. It comes down to the advertising dollar which defeats the creative process."




Asher feels many people would be more expressive with their art and opinions if they weren't concerned that it would bring consequence, critique or scorn from their communities.




"I hold integrity in real high regard," said Asher. "It's one of those fragile things because it's not necessarily something that you can get back."




Asher himself has been heavily influenced by underground publications he has read in the past. But he always felt that in order to contribute to them he would have to subscribe or purport to hold one particular political or social view above another, something he hopes to avoid in his publication.




"We're radical, but not in a way that term is typically seen," Asher says. "We're not subversive, we're not out to destroy the government or trying to be anarchists or anything. I'm just trying to facilitate genuine freedom of speech beyond (the influence) of what's available," said Asher. "It's okay to have a popular opinion. But it's also okay to have an unpopular one. (Through anonymity) no one has to bear any social responsibility. It's really passive-aggressive and I love it!"




In addition to his literary aspirations, Asher has had quite an interesting life. He has worked as a traveling salesman for credit card processors, a plumber in Alaska, anti-virus tech-support, various restaurants and in construction work. He also used to run with some graffiti art crews in Portland as a teenager but grew discouraged when police confiscated his sketchbook as evidence. A college graduate and traveling man, Asher's hobbies include juggling, unicycle riding and research. Now happily married and a father, Asher has settled in Ashland with his family to take roots. But in those roots, Asher wants to spread the freedom he feels.




"I'll print what I get, and how I get it," said Asher. "I'm not a grammar-Nazi. In fact, I want misspellings. I don't care if it's backwards or upside down."




Asher, still waiting on a few more submissions before going to press with the first issue of his journal, which he hopes to publish every three weeks, is planning an initially modest 200 copy run. In true underground form, he plans to distribute the publication through local venues and by leaving copies in public places, hoping people will stumble upon them and be inspired much in the way he was by the publications that spawned this idea. "It's a grass roots idea," said Asher. "I think it's really cool because it has the ability to form organically and then grow from there."




"I want to encourage submissions. I will publish them. It's really open. Some things I've written about, for example, have been fishing holes, pool tips, how to hustle drinks. If you have the kind of poetry that would get you thrown into a psych ward, that'd be fine. I just hope that I don't get any suicide notes because of this," said Asher. "That would really suck."

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