Sunday, March 17, 2013

The Book I'm Afraid Of

Several years ago I wrote a book that I love with all my heart.  It's a big book - not in terms of words or pages, but in terms of ideas.  It touches an important issue I think needs to be addressed - in a gripping fictional form.  And this issue throws people into two vehement camps - both of which sling venom every chance they get.

I pulled it out this morning and took a look at a couple pages.  Since the hero's name is Sean Finnegan, I had this idea I could post a couple pages of this book over at Tabula Rasa to celebrate St. Patrick's Day.  Reading the pages where I introduce Finn and lay down a little of his backstory made my heart soar.  It really is good - it's not just my imagination!

Then I thought about the reactions it would likely draw.

I envisioned an inbox full of nasty-grams.  I imagined friends becoming not-friends, acquaintances disappearing and perfect strangers hating me.  My heart pounded and I moved over here to write this post.

I'm afraid of this book.  I knew when I wrote it what it would be.  I wasn't afraid to write it.  I'm just scared as hell to have anyone read it...

Well, that's not strictly true.  I'm scared as hell people will know it's me who wrote it.  I'd be perfectly happy having millions of people read it as long as it was under a pseudonym.  I just don't want a target on my chest.

Although I'm afraid, I did send this sucker out on a round of queries.  Most typical, and a couple really negative.  One turned into a big, fat full request (which turned into a 'no response means rejection', but that's neither here nor there).  After which I gave up, stuffed it into a corner of my hard drive and let it gather dust.

Every once in a while, I take the book out and pet it.  But it reminds me of that textbook from Harry Potter and The Prisoner of Azkaban.  Like it's going to sneak out from under the bed and bite me.

Yeah, I'm probably blowing this way out of proportion.  My fears are probably irrational.  But then again, maybe they aren't.  And I can't risk that.  Not yet.  I'm not brave enough.

What about you?  Do you have books you're afraid of?  Do you touch on issues or do you stay away from them?  What about as a reader?  My mother hates books with deeper issues - unless they're done really well and the book doesn't shove the issue down her throat (which I like to think I did here).

(Added on 3/18/13 at 5:33am: Talk about kismet.  Here's a post about a new literary agent looking for speculative fiction that touches on social issues. Not sure if I'm going to jump on this now or wait until my life storm has passed, but I will be querying her as soon as possible.)


  1. Now I am VERY curious what this big issue is lol.

    I don't have concerns about my writing except for how hot it can be. I live in the south now, and my husband's family is super conservative/traditional, so I don't know how they'd react once they read my stuff. I'm concerned about it, but it isn't going to stop me from trying to get it published or talking about it *shrugs* If they don't like it, they don't have to read it =)

  2. You do know there's a whole school of thought about doing the very thing you're afraid of/avoiding, right? (not that I necessarily FOLLOW that advice myself...)

  3. I understand, Nat. And good for you. You should go after publishing your stuff - even in the traditional south.

    They are braver people than I, JB. I don't know how some writers do it.

  4. I'm curious... I bet it's not as taboo as you think. Man, I was all ready to pop over to see the excerpt...

  5. Sorry, Alexia. My yellow-belly is showing today.

  6. First of all... "Every once in a while, I take the book out and pet it." Lol! We all do that, I think, but it caught me off guard, and made me giggle. ;)
    This just tells me you put yourself on the page. You made yourself vulnerable for the work. I admire that. And I think I have an idea what you mean... I think that fear is a big part of why I am as yet unpublished... I am afraid that because of my day job (EMS) I will be persecuted or even sued for what I’ve written. (it is all fiction, but when you have seen so many odd things, who knows what will make people think you’re writing about them?!)

  7. I want to read it, B.E.

    I have a book I pet periodically, not because I'm afraid to send it but because I love it. It'll be out this summer. I also have a book that does creep out from under the bed to bite me periodically. I'm lucky I don't have rabies! It's dark. REALLY dark. And ugly. I want to bathe in bleach whenever I have to be in the villain's head. It's a horror novel. Maybe someday I'll finish writing it. I should mention that I started writing in 1993. Yeah. Twenty years ago. How's that for procrastination?

    And yes, you'd better submit that puppy! FYI? I love the hero's name!

  8. I think what you feel is very normal. Writers go through this I-don't-want-anybody-I-know-to-read-this dance for a whole host of reasons.

    For me, personally, I'm afraid to share some of the romance I'm writing/will write. I mostly write children's novels, and that's what my family and friends are used to, so I'm afraid it would be a big leap (and might not be received well.) So, though it's not the same issue as yours, I can relate.

    Wishing you lots of good luck! If this is a story that's important to you, don't give up on it!

  9. Yes! I do. I wrote an historical fiction that featured a native american tribe as part of the story, and an agent told me to never, ever publish it because it was too controversial. That scared the heck out of me.