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.)