Once the delicate tale is done, finding the market

Classifying sensitive stories

Writing non-fiction, especially about personal experience, requires cold objectivity that isn't easily come by if the experience was intense or life-changing. You could say, in fact, that the degree of difficulty is directly proportional to how hard the passage was.

If that non-fictional experience touches the raw, brutally-painful subject of child abuse or rape, it becomes even harder to handle. Firstly, in putting it down on paper in a way that will not be so dark and heavy that it simply crushes the reader, no matter how courageous they are. Secondly, in finding ways of "getting the word out" once the manuscript is finished, re-written two or three times, all polished up. What angle do you select, to talk about the story in a way that has just the right "marketing" punch to drive thick-skinned readers into it, to promote it, sell it, ultimately, with all the respect and dignity that such a subject decently demands? Not easy.

With the story done, printed, "out there" and available through most of the customary channels, what next? How do you "catalog" such a story, under what "genre"? Is it a "memoir", such as one might catalog Frank J. Grandpa's brilliant and esteemed passage in the RAF through WW II, or Lady Wisterley's unexpected rise out of dusty downtown poverty? If the story includes a "psychological" element about how its protagonists ended up where they did, and "family" elements about parental participation in their journey, should it find itself classified under "family psychology" or "social"?

A number of these issues are high on my list, these days. How indeed does one classify fragments of a human journey, with sensitivity, care and right etiquette, while keeping at least a tiny eye on sales? Not every writer has a Maecenas glancing over his shoulder, slipping a few coins into a baggy pant pocket now and again.