Sunday, July 15, 2012

Who likes to read about other’s grief?

I have been trying hard to promote my recent memoir and this weekend I was musing on how many people really like to read books and memoirs about grief and adversity.

How many of us have the perseverance and strength to read about other’s inner feelings of despair and anguish? Even if we know that the writer has been able to - or trying to -  overcome such grief and anguish. Those close to author may find difficult to distance themselves, and sit back to read about an incident they are already aware of.

Humans around the world seek to follow the principle enshrined in the United States Declaration of Independence "Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness."  And in the pursuit of happiness, reading about human grief and triumphs, and overcoming adversity is not really a priority.

While reading about grief is hard, writing about it can also be equally excruciating though sometimes it is also cathartic. Many of us, self-included, have a strong motivation to write about our grief. For some of us who are unable to verbalize, writing helps get feelings off one’s chest. When our infant son, suddenly died on an international flight bound for India, my wife and I were in shock. I had to begin planning the funeral of our only child instead of the glorious homecoming we had envisaged. It took me a while but I eventually began writing about my experience, observations and feelings as my wife and I began to “move on” in life.

During the past few weeks, I have been trying to seek out reviewers to read "A Child Lost in Flight," the recently published memoir. Although a few reviewers have been kind to post reviews of the book on Amazon, Goodreads and their blogs, I have been finding it especially hard to reach out to influential Digerati.

I think there are several reasons for this: mine not a memoir by a famous person or the story of an incident people may be naturally inclined to explore (how many of us want to even contemplate the death of a child?) Another reason for the lackluster response is perhaps the topic of grief, though the book is not just about grief but how I overcame it.

Maybe I am not “marketing” another key aspect that I have explored in the book, the social comment on the growth pains of India that directly impacts the diaspora like me. As one of the reviewers has posted on Amazon “The book also describes the breakdown of the order and structure that is all too common on airlines based off of India. When this subtle incompetence is combined with a ridiculous level of bureaucracy within India's public sector organizations, one has to struggle through even basic processes that we in the western world take it for granted.”

Perhaps the real question here is in reaching out to readers. They must be thinking: Yes, I know you have written about your adversity and how you overcame it; but by reading about your grief and travails, am I going to experience some negative emotions? And why should I invest my time and energy in reading about your travails and challenges when I could be in pursuit of happiness?

link: cross post from other blog

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