When you write a book and send it out into the world, you never know exactly where it will land and how it will recreate itself. And sometimes, miracles occur. That’s exactly what happened in the case of Don Miller’s memoir, Blue Like Jazz. Since it was published in 2003, Don’s story chronicling the rediscovery of his religious faith has sold 1.5 million copies. The book is actually a series of essays about his spiritual revival at a very secular and progressive place: Reed College in Oregon.
Initially, Blue Like Jazz didn’t sell all that well, but it gained traction through word of mouth — the best kind of buzz there is. At a reading in Nashville, Don was approached by a filmmaker named Steve Taylor, who thought he saw a movie in the book. Ultimately, Don co-wrote the script with Taylor and a third writer. Even though it had a modest budget, it took four years for the creators to find funding. Then, just as filming was about to begin, one investor bailed out. Dispirited, Don wrote on his blog that the movie would probably never be made.
Enter two twentysomething reader-fans, Zach and Jonathan. They contacted Don and asked for permission to launch a crowd-funding campaign on Kickstarter.com, a site designed to support creative projects of all sorts. “There were so many who wanted to see this happen, why couldn’t we all just come together and fund it?” Zach asked in a video to fuel the fundraising drive.
Why not, indeed? In 30 days, the campaign raised nearly $350,000 (much of it from fans who donated as little as $10.00) and set a Kickstarter record. “Donald Miller was [Zach and Jonathan’s] favorite writer and they ended up saving his movie,” says Kickstarter’s co-founder Yancey Strickler. “It should be a movie on its own.”
Yancey’s right. The tale of how Blue Like Jazz came to be made is surely almost as exciting and miraculous as the events that inspired Don’s story in the first place. Wonderful to think just how loyal, creative, and resourceful book-loving fans can be, isn’t it? May Blue Like Jazz riff on — and may we all write on, inspired by the knowledge that somewhere out there, loyal and adoring readers await us as well.