As I get farther along in the first draft of my work-in-progress, I begin to suffer some sort of vague but growing doubts about the subject matter and the characters I have chosen. I'm not second-guessing my choices so much as I'm starting to feel a bit ill at ease over the reception this book will get from my agent, possible future publishers, Mighty Reader, et alia.
Mighty Reader and I were talking just last night (over dinner of chicken Provencal, if you must know) about books we won't read even if we admire the authors who've written them. There are subjects that I'll simply steer clear of: modern warfare, terrorism, pedophilia, serial killers, anything with explicit sex scenes, cyberpunk stuff, clown romances (kidding; I love clown romances), white collar crime; there are also subjects that aren't so nice that I will read: adultery, occult stuff, slavery, poverty, murder, imprisonment, death of all sorts. And the book I'm currently writing might, maybe, be one that I wouldn't necessarily pick up off the shelf and buy were I in a bookstore. Which is what I find most interesting here, that I'm writing a book about things and characters that I usually don't read about.
And, really, mosty my issue is that I'm writing about characters for whom I don't feel I necessarily have adequate standing. I am not an escaped female slave, nor am I a priest, nor am I a widow, nor am I a gay man, nor am I an American Indian. All of these characters appear in my book, as do (I attempt) all of the worst things about their lives when viewed through the above-mentioned societal identifiers. Who am I to presume to speak for any of them? Also, there is a violent act in each chapter. Is this the sort of book I normally buy? Not in the least. But it's the sort of book I am writing. Imagine my embarrassment at the library as I ask for books about how African slaves were tortured during the colonial era, or what the symptoms of syphillis are. Really, thank god for the internets sometimes.
Anyway, Davin's already written a post about "dark subjects" so I won't get into the question of avoiding possibly-inappropriate subjects, but I will wonder if any of you have awakened to the reality that you're writing a book about things you would normally never even consider reading about?