The WHYs of Minnow

First of all, can we all just stop to appreciate this baby wombat, because come on. 

I'm making my way through edits of Minnow and I've come to a strange realization. I am faced with, for the first time, the idea of Minnow being done. That thought has literally never crossed my mind before. In the past, when I've been a little dissatisfied with the cadence of a certain sentence, or can't quite find the perfect word for something, I've contented myself with the knowledge that I can always go back and fix it in a later draft. But, soon, there won't be any later drafts. Time is running out.  As I type new things, this image has taken over my mind: the letters and words forming themselves not onto a computer screen but directly onto a printed page in a physical book. This is terrifying! This is anxiety-making!  I know it's totally psychological. I know I've got everything I need to finish this book the way I want, so I just need to get my head right. I've been watching a crap-ton of TED talks recently, and I watched an amazing one yesterday by Simon Sinek titled "How great leaders inspire action." The title is a little misleading because it's basically about how anyone can produce a product that people want as long as they have a good reason for making it. "People don't buy what you're selling, they buy why you're selling it." Sinek argues that the why behind what you're creating is more important than the thing itself. If you don't have the why, you won't be successful no matter how awesome your product is.  I reminded myself of the whys of Minnow and I felt immediately better. I have so many whys.

  • Because I believe in the YA novel as a medium. It is ideal for me, and ideal for Minnow.  I don't believe in censoring or pulling punches, and YA is OK with that. 
  • Because communities like Minnow's have existed throughout history, exist today, and will probably exist for all time. I read a lot about isolated religious groups and cults, and found that the ingredients are fairly predictable--a charismatic leader, a group of people who are motivated to follow. The results of these communities are often equally easy to predict--a disenfranchised, manipulated, often abused population, particularly young women. Minnow is my attempt to tell their stories. 
  • Because I believe that a YA novel is an ideal environment to tell the stories of young people grappling with religion and faith. 
  • Because there's not enough discussion of religion in YA and there really should be. For many people on this planet, religious belief or lack thereof is an important part of their lives and shapes the way they see the world. The fact that we don't address that more, in a frank and honest way, is a shame. 
  • Because, at this point, I owe it to these characters to tell their story in the best way I can. 
It's sort of my Minnow mission statement. If I can keep my eye on these truths, I think I'll make it through these edits with a product I'm proud of.