I rarely mentioned the title of the manuscript that eventually became my debut novel. And the little wiggle of embarrassment didn't disappear until I'd said the title hundreds of times after publication. It's a good title: My Big Nose And Other Natural Disasters.
I just didn't want anyone to know that I had a big nose.
So why write about something I didn't even want to talk about? I asked that question about a thousand times through the publication process. My Knobby Knees And Other Natural Disasters could have been just as good, right?
After writing three novels that didn't grab an editor or snag an agent, I felt more than a little discouraged. Was it time to give up and ? I never could quite fill in that blank, so I decided to give NaNoWriMo a try. Not having the time to do much research, I trolled my high school journals for material. All that boy-craziness, friendship drama, and, yes, angst over my giant, huge, take-over-the-world nose.* I would have no trouble drafting 50,000 words in November. And I didn't. I wrote honestly, cathartically, joyously. I'd found the fun in writing for the sake of writing again.
And the story was commercial. I snagged that agent, grabbed that editor, and found myself talking about my nose for weeks and months. People did ask me all the embarrassing questions I'd feared, various versions of, "So, you think you have a big nose, hmm?"
I'm proud to say that I'm completely over my nose issues. What took my character 345 pages to learn, I finally figured out, um, a few decades later. But you can bet that I'm not about to start beating up on my other body parts, no matter how saggy they get!
* I would totally scan in a photo of me in high school, but I couldn't find one. Me and my nose mostly avoided the camera. How freaking sad is that?!?!?