The Darcys of Pemberley has been published in all it’s forms for a little over a week now. And what a week it’s been for me – selling books online and in person, signing “Shannon Winslow” inside front covers, scheduling guest blog spots and a Twitter party appearance. It’s a dream come true! But not in the way you might think.
Some people aspire to fame and fortune when they begin writing a novel. That’s not me. I’m too shy to hanker after television appearances. And although I’d like to have something tangible to show for the countless hours of effort I’ve put in, it’s not really about the money either. So what was I hoping to achieve, then? What drove me to persevere for six long years to get this novel published? The answer became crystal clear to me over the last several days.
I participated in an outdoor art show this past weekend. I should have been crushed that my artwork wasn’t selling, but instead I was tickled pink to be meeting so many lovely Jane Austen fans, who were drawn to my booth by my book display. They were buying The Darcys of Pemberley, yes, but I was having so much fun talking to them that I could barely make correct change. One mom put me in touch with her Janeite daughter on the opposite side of the country. A high-school-aged girl, with writing aspirations of her own, ended up buying three books so she could share two with friends. And a couple of days later, a fellow artist invited me to an impromptu book signing at her studio after she discovered most the students she had in class that day were Pride and Prejudice fans too.
The joy was in making those connections, in discovering other people who speak the same language and hold dear things that matter to me.
There are certainly many points of strong resemblance in your characters; in your intimate acquaintance with each other and your mutual strong affection, you were counterparts. (from a letter to “My Dearest Fanny,” dated July 29, 1817)
I suppose the phenomenon isn’t confined to this specific genre of the book world (although I’m convinced that Jane Austen fans are some of the nicest people on the planet). Other authors undoubtedly feel the same about their readers.
Art for art’s sake (whether writing, music, painting or dance) is worthwhile, and bringing something beautiful into existence can be satisfying in and of itself. But I believe most of us want more. The biggest reward for any artist must come from the privilege of sharing what they’ve created with others. That’s been my experience so far. What do you think?