Episode 37

Book Writing & Post-Army Life, Matthew's Story

You may remember Matti, a Finnish-American member of the Finnish Defense Forces reserves, from last week’s episode. This week, we continue our conversation with a preview of Matti’s forthcoming book, 347 Mornings.

Before arriving in Finland to complete his military service, Matti spent hours researching what he might expect during his service. He hoped to read the stories of others who had gone before him, so that he might have a better idea of what to expect. However, other than a couple of threads on Reddit, he found a lack of information about Finnish military service for foreign-born Finns.

To fill this knowledge gap, Matti planned to write a book about his own experience serving in the Finnish military. Throughout his service, he kept journals and recordings of his thoughts and experiences.

In the summer of 2020, during the coronavirus pandemic, Matti was quarantined for two weeks. He decided to spend the time writing; two weeks passed quickly, and he continued writing. After nearly two months locked in his apartment with few breaks to eat, Matti’s book was finished.

When it was complete, 347 Mornings was not a “how-to” guide on Finnish military service, but rather a personal testimony to Matti’s own experience. It details his challenges, successes, and regrets, and gives those who might come after him an idea of what they might expect.

In writing the book, Matti hopes to provide a helpful resource for other foreign-born Finns looking to complete their military service. He believes that Finland’s conscription system is an important tool not only in providing for the defense of the nation, but also in building societal unity and working towards equality.

Matti is grateful to have had the opportunity to work with a diverse group of Finns and to better sympathize with others from vastly different backgrounds.

“It’s something that brings people together from all walks of life in Finland,” he said. “It made me feel like I’ve done my part in a way… it kind of becomes a great equalizer, because you’re all in it together.”

At the time of our conversation, Matti has reached out to both US and Finnish publishers. He hopes to publish in Finland to better reach his target audience, but he is prepared to wait out the months-long process of finding a publisher and securing a book deal.

In the meantime, Matti is giving tours around Kallio and working with a clean-tech startup, Ozonium, that distributes eco-friendly cleaning products to a variety of industries. He is glad to be working for an eco-conscious company contributing to the important fight against COVID-19.

If you missed our first chat with Matti, be sure to go back and give episode 36 a listen.