Last night a local Adirondack book club discussed my book, "Here Be Monsters".
This group is comprised of about 10 women who live and work in the Tri-Lakes, and meet once a month (with food and drink) to discuss a book that they've spent the last month reading. They read all sorts of books, mostly fiction, and last month they read my book.
This had me feeling proud and excited and nervous...all at once.
A part of me wishes that I could have been a fly on the wall at their gathering, but I did get a pretty detailed report from a friend who's a member/participant in the club. They enjoyed the book, and had a fun time reading and talking about it amongst themselves. I got some useful feedback about my voice and characters and pacing and structure. I also heard about a couple of errors that they found in the book (which I regret, although I haven't read a totally "clean" book in the last 5 years).
The most amazing thing for me was knowing that a smart group of people, all of them with a deep love for reading (or snacks and company), appreciated and enjoyed my book even when compared with the other books that they've been reading in recent months/years. They read great books by great authors, and "Here Be Monsters" could sit at the grown-up table with the other "real" books.
A part of me has been protecting me from the slings and arrows of worry or doubt about my writing with a shield comprised mostly of arrogance and ego, with a thin veneer of disdain for those who would dare to judge (negatively, positive judgments are OK) me and/or my novel (completely unfair, but it got me through some initial worries), but the positive feedback from this book club (even more than the good reviews from Amazon and GoodReads) has helped me get comfortable with the fact that I've written a good book.
The most important thing to me is that people enjoy "Here Be Monsters", and want more of the same...this is important to me because I like making people happy, and because I love writing.
I'm working on a couple of short Tyler Cunningham pieces right now, and am in the early stages of planning the next novel (using feedback from reviews and this book club to hopefully improve the storytelling), and I look forward to sharing more of my writing as time goes by.
I'm a lucky and happy and grateful man, getting to do something that I love, being generally lauded for it, and even making a little money while I'm at it.