Celebrating a #coming-of-age story
A year ago, I wrote about a message I’d received from an old friend who congratulated me for having “the nerve and energy to write so many words and to see [#Minerva’s Fox] through to publication.” This month, as I celebrate the novel’s first birthday, I’d add: It takes at least as much nerve and energy to #market a first novel as to write one, particularly when you’re an #indie author.
Some of the perils and pitfalls I’ve worked through:
- Finding myself tongue-tied when someone asked what my novel is “about”
- Learning to accept face-to-face critiques with a smile
- Struggling with the online resources available to me to market my book
- Remembering why I wrote the story in the first place
- Maintaining my belief in my character and her coming-of-age story
Solving the “tongue-tied” problem: I was tongue-tied because I had too much to say and didn’t know where to start. So I simplified my messages, repeated them until I became comfortable with them.
Accepting face-to-face critiques: I learned to ask my critic how he or she would change the character/scene/plot point. I discovered how many people love an opportunity to #tell stories. No harm, no foul!
Untangling the social media conundrum: Not quite there yet, but I’m gradually getting the hang of it, thanks especially to organizations like http://www.wfwa.com and http://www.BooksGoSocial.com.
Remembering why I write: It’s like the mountain you climb because it’s there. I do it (did it!) because it’s a satisfying way to learn and think about the world we live in through creating characters and stories I believe in. In an interview, playwright and novelist Sara Ruhl puts it like this: “What moves me [in a work of literature] is the trifecta of memory, love, and the passage of time. The close observation of character, of the moment as it passes–suffused with love. The writer who says: Here I stood! I loved the world enough to write it all down.” (NYT Book Review, 2.28.16)
Believing in my character and her story: Reader’s comments have reassured me that there is an audience for stories like Malorie’s, that the #coming-of-age narrative continues to resonate. Sure, it’s a well-known, widely-used theme and structure. There are many reasons for that, including the one I think of most often when I think of how to describe #Minerva’s Fox to someone who hasn’t read it: The coming-of-age narrative makes it possible simultaneously to entertain and enlighten by offering a model we readers or audience members can hold up as a mirror for our own efforts to understand ourselves better. Coming-of-age stories appeal to us because they let us see ourselves clearer as we learn about and explore a fictional character’s discovery process.
Coming-of-age: It’s a winner.