My mother encouraged me to become an actress because it’s what she first wanted to be. She encouraged me to marry and have children because she wanted more of them. She encouraged me to be an artist because I worked as a specialist in black-and-white 19th century illustration adaptation application and she delighted in coloring the pictures.
But she never encouraged me to be a writer.
Perhaps that’s why becoming a novelist came later to me than most.
Even though I was steadily employed as an editor, columnist, and essayist for newspapers and trade journals most of my life, I never ventured beyond being a designer and freelancer until after my mother passed away in 2006.
Only then did I begin writing, Imogene’s Eloise;.
Wanting approval from unwilling parents might be the first obstacle every writer endures.
It quiets confidence.
But if you’re blessed with the talent, or possessed by the desire, or are willing to perfect the skill, you’ll eventually begin writing to an audience of strangers and delight in their kernels of encouragement.
I publish this piece in the wake of my previous blog, When Bad Reviews Hurt Good Authors, and in light of being told that Amazon, with it’s 11+ million titles, doesn’t begin pushing a book until 50 reviews have been posted by verified buyers.
I don’t know if that’s true, or not. But let’s suppose it is.
Fifty confirmed reviews is a lot to ask of readers and expect for any book, especially when most of us abide by the standard ‘if you can’t say something nice, say nothing at all’ rule of etiquette.
The primary flaw in such protocol occurs when an author knows, or even suspects you’re reading her book. By censoring yourself out of kindness, you inadvertently, (1) contribute to author-angst and, (2) prevent a genre you enjoy from being recognized by the mainstream media.
Trust me when I say, if we’re ever to secure safe haven in all societies and attain the respect we deserve without sacrificing the virtues inherent to our culture, we need the attention and support of the mainstream media.
And, we need it — not just for the token gay spotlight of celebrities who can afford armed guard protection in public, walled estates in private, and a select circle of friends mirroring themselves — but for the vast majority of us who join in exalting those privileged few, while being baffled by continued anti-sentiment towards homosexuals.
Could it be that acclaimed lesbians and gays are elevated as the untouchable ideal, while we who are uncelebrated are seen as the ignobly real?
And, if so, isn’t it time we cease living in their illusory shadows by working to better define our own?
Before he died in 1882, the English author, Anthony Trollolope, insisted a novelist must — through a framework of personal ethics — inspire readers to identify with a book’s characters and, in doing so, act in a manner that benefits humankind.
I might have failed in doing that.
While vigorously welcoming and greatly appreciating enthusiasm shown for my novel, Imogene’s Eloise, I fear the reviewer who settles on simply saying, “It’s entertaining.”
Yes, novels need to please, first and foremost.
I dare not hope for more.
I hope for a reader who will ponder both the obvious and the subtext in my writings and feel emboldened, or is healed of hurt, or resolves the past, or embraces the present, or is enlightened to the levity that life seeks as nourishment in order to survive, well.
Not that I won’t rejoice in whatever reviews I get!
And, not that I’m ungrateful for my 1.3 million ranking on a list placing 9.7 million books behind mine.
And, not that I don’t know in my heart, if my mom were alive today, she’d forego the content of Imogene’s Eloise in favor of the cover.
Indeed, it’s all encouraging.
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Copyright by Marguerite Quantaine 2015
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I’m all eyes and heart.
IMOGENE’S ELOISE: Inspired by a true story traces the unpredictable journey of a young woman living alone amid the political unrest and social taboos of Manhattan during the 1960s and early 70s, oblivious to her own feelings and those of others until being smitten by the sight of a stranger in town for the weekend whose name and number she’s prevented from getting. In trying to appear calm, she downs a glass of gin she’s mistaken for ice water, awakening the next morning in a fog — but determined to find that one person in a city of millions before time runs out. On a fast paced track towards an ending you can’t possibly imagine, Imogene’s Eloise challenges any doubt you might harbor in the existence of love at first sight and will fortify your faith in the promise of happily ever after.
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