I’ve never been big on sushi. The mere idea of eating raw fish turns my stomach. And the seaweed stuff it’s rolled in? No, thank you. But this week, raw took on a whole new meaning.
My book signing happened about a week ago at Milwaukee Brewing Company and included a quick presentation followed by an open discussion about my first book, My Name is Edward. The nerves were buzzing and heart racing as I didn’t know what to expect. In hindsight, it’s probably a good thing I didn’t.
During the second half of the discussion, the audience was invited to ask questions. That’s when things took an unexpected and interesting turn. It seemed they were more interested in the true events and inspiration behind the story than anything else. I acknowledged that I drew significantly from my childhood, travelling right into present day, and that I did have an experience with a homeless man that consumed me for a time. It would have been wrong to deny that quite a bit of my life worked its way into the fabric of the book, but I felt compelled to stress that it’s a story of fiction. That, however, didn’t stop them from digging deep.
I knew answering some of their questions would expose things I don’t typically or readily share. But something hit me as I looked out into the sea of genuinely interested faces. They were there investing their precious time wanting to connect and to understand the genesis of the story, as well as the person who wrote it. Crafting careful answers would do nothing to strengthen our connection. To the contrary. The more raw, real, and relatable we are, the deeper our bonds. There’s always a risk in being vulnerable, but there’s a greater risk in not being.
As I thought about the book discussion hours and days later, still surprised that I shared as much as I did, I was reminded of the vow I made as I dove into this writing journey. I would let people in, accept criticism and learn from it, and not compromise the person I am.
The second book in this series is the very definition of raw. It’s entitled They Call Him Skinny. Just in case you haven’t read the first book, Skinny is a character from My Name is Edward. He’s a flawed guy who is as easy to love as he is to loathe. I’ve had a few readers express that they knew guys like Skinny and didn’t like him one bit. Others have embraced him, commenting on their love for his sense of humor and nonsensical language. He’s polarizing, to say the least, and reminds me of one of my favorite quotes from Robert Louis Stevenson. “There is so much good in the worst of us, and so much bad in the best of us…”
Understanding others, especially those that are different than us, happens when we listen. And real growth occurs when we are are willing to be vulnerable and genuine. I hope to be that with my readers.
With that said, bring on the reviews, hit me up on email, post on my author’s page. I will listen and, hopefully, learn. Your feedback is where my personal growth as a writer begins.
Be real. Be raw.