I must say that I have been surprised at receiving feedback for my first writing effort. I didn't get a lot of feedback as I tried to roll Bully up onto his feet, and my first tastes of people's impressions of Bully are unexpected. There are still the non-committal reviews where it really wasn't their cup of tea, but they are trying to be nice, but then comes the "I couldn't get past this part because it was really kind of dark." Of course, I ask them to try again as that one part is just a small part, but I am, in a way, excited that it elicited such a response. I have to say, I would be kind of disappointed if everyone was non-committal in their reviews. My one hope was to be able to say that Bully made someone one cry at one point or made the laugh out loud at one point. That would be a solid win. It is dark enough in some places to trigger a tear, and there is enough growing up nostalgia and angst to elicit a laugh in some places at Bully bumbling through. To hear someone say it was so dark at this point I couldn't continue, is in the same ballpark - kind of a win. I want them to go on; I want to be able to explain to them the context behind it, but still, it's kind of a win. To me it is very dark in many places, some would say it was a bit of my own 'shadow work' coming out in word form - a therapeutic workout if you will, and I would have to agree. There is one part just reading it back that makes me cry every time. I have wondered if family members would read it and think, 'so that's what that was all about.' Though, I don't think there is anything in Bully that is quite that literal a translation as if it were an autobiography.
Other reactions have been very positive. I put it up for an auction at an arts and crafts fund drive for their festival and it sold. I'm not sure for how much, but apparently it "did very well." So there ya go. I hope to return to that festival in October and have both Bully Part One and Part Two to sell as that is a complete story - the whole original story. It was cut in two to meet the requirements of the publisher and I don't blame any press for not wanting to take on nearly 800 pages of Bully in one fell swoop as a first book. It also allowed me to fix a lot of troubling things with the text and create a whole new 'middle' for it, so it actually was a good thing to do it this way.
I do want to get part 2 out by this summer as I want to be able to hand to people a complete story and firm platform on which the other stories will be built.