I’m no hero. I’ve never claimed to be and I very much doubt it’s in my nature to aspire to such things. Should circumstance demand it, I like to think that I would “do the right thing” – and I have, in my time, made the occasional stand of which I’ve been quite proud. But no more, I’m sure, then the next man or woman. Generally, on the rare occasion that I think of it, I consider myself an observer. Or, if I’m feeling particularly grand, a chronicler. I’m confident about the things I do – about, principally, my writing – but, nonetheless, I still, like everyone, have to battle self-doubt.
In short, I much prefer to get on with what I do without having to make the difficult decisions that occasionally arise in the, specifically, “professional” side of my life. But, of course, these decisions are unavoidable – and when a decision is called for, I do the best I can and hope against hope that the choice I make is the correct one.
I was faced with one such scenario fairly recently. Having shared my novel Children of the Resolution with my publisher, the decision was made that it was not the ideal follow-up novel to If I Never. Something with which I agreed. The two pieces are extremely different and, yes, I was concerned that my readers might not be all that receptive to a novel that was so clearly more serious in tone and theme.
The more I thought about it, though, the more regretful I became. Children of the Resolution is an extremely personal novel. Because of this, yes, I was concerned that I was not the best person to judge it. Heavily autobiographical in places, feeding off my own experience of the integration of disabled children into mainstream education in the 1970s/1980s, I was very aware that my memory could well have been colouring and shading the novel in ways that the reader ultimately would not see. But still I was regretful. Still I had a feeling in my gut that this book needed to be out there – that it, however imperfect it may be, spoke of a very unique place and time. One, indeed, that simply has not, to my knowledge, been documented in any form (at least from the perspective of those on the receiving end). And, so, as many of you will already know, I decided to self-publish Children of the Resolution (with my publisher’s blessing).
This novel is not yet widely available. It should, hopefully, be listed and stocked on Amazon et al around the end of this month, and listed in bricks and mortar stores at the same time. It is, however, available here – and those who have found themselves unable to wait for it to appear on Amazon have already started buying and reading it.
Something for which I am immensely grateful – and which has, quite typically, left me fretting through the silence of their reading! Wholly convinced within a short time that I had made the wrong call and that Children of the Resolution was destined to suffer the fabled “second novel syndrome” comments, I prepared myself, comforting myself with the knowledge that I could, if need be, withdraw it from circulation with the click of one button.
Blessedly, the first reactions have been everything I could have wished for. To quote one particular reader, Nicholas J Rogers (a gentleman whom I know would tell me if he thought it sucked like a big sucky thing): “[…] Children of the Resolution […] Opened my eyes to an entire world which, to my shame, I had never properly given consideration. Once again your key strengths are sense of character and sense of place. A real achievement.”
This in itself, I think, vindicates the decision. Nicholas speaks of “shame” – of an entire world that he hadn’t considered. But I see no shame there. Many people are, quite understandably, completely unaware of the aspects of “inclusive education” in its early guises that I explore in Children, not to mention its impact on those who experienced it. It isn’t a big story. It isn’t high drama or misery memoir exploitation. In many respects, it’s a fairly simple coming-of-age story. But its time and place, the sense of revolutionary change that, as is so often the way, failed to reach fruition… these are the things that, I believe, lend it a uniqueness.
A uniqueness that obliged me to share the truth that the fiction of Children of the Resolution, I hope, in its way acknowledges.
© 2010 Gary William Murning