I've already told you about the time I got this kick-ass idea approved by my publisher, wrote the book, and then they decided to change their parameters and it wouldn't fit. At the time I was between agents but I'd already had a drink with someone who seemed wonderful (and she was) so I called her up, she went into high gear and it was sold in a matter of days. The book was AGAINST THE WIND http://tinyurl.com/m2efdtt, free today only at Amazon.
This was particularly important to me because this was a BOMH, as some of us call them. Book of My Heart. Something that takes hold of a writer and won't let go until it's done, whether it's the smart thing to write or not. Something that you're obsessed by, day and night, and the thing gets done in record time and you just wish there were more to write.
I've had a number of books of my heart. Offhand I can think of THE DEMON COUNT, LORD SATAN'S BRIDE, TANGLED LIES, NIGHT OF THE PHANTOM, BLACK ICE, NIGHTFALL, MONSTER IN THE CLOSET, and probably more than I'm not thinking of. AGAINST THE WIND was one of those books, and for a long time I considered it the best book I'd ever written. It took me a while to top it.
It had themes (for some reason the word trope makes me itchy) that I love - parental betrayal, a strong daughter, a childhood crush turning into great sex and true love, an exotic setting. I think Patrick Jane of "The Mentalist" could read this book and immediately tell you my entire emotional life. Probably anyone less gifted could do so too.
That's because I put everything on the paper. I never hold back, no matter what. I don't save things for another book, I don't worry about exposing my insecurities, I never worried about shocking parents and elderly aunts and uncles by my love scenes.
There's a quote attributed to Red Smith (and really, if writers come up with brilliant sayings why don't they write them down? This was reported by Walter Winchell, so there's no proof that Smith actually said it). The quote is, "you simply open a vein and bleed." (Though why writing about sports demands such passion eludes me).
But that's what I do. I bleed all over the page, and it can be a messy business. But an honest one, with nothing held back. The ride is bumpy, but it's worth it.
The only problem with this is that they can't all be mountaintop experiences. A writer writes. You write each one hoping it will be glorious, and even the BOMH are never quite as glorious as they were when you first envisioned them. And for some reason I equate easy with brilliant. Others are the opposite -- they thing the harder the work the better the book is. I believe the best books are practically dictated by god -- I just sit and type.
But that's not true. Some of the books that ended up as absolute favorites were hard work, a pain in the ass, something I had to rewrite and rehaul and wrestle into submission and never quite tame. I'm just as proud of the glorious messes as I am of the books I thought were near-perfect. In fact, one of my favorite reviews from PW called my book "troubling." (They didn't like the sexual politics).
I want to be troubling, and messy, and exposed. It doesn't make for an easy life or a particulalry brilliant career, but it's the only way I can make something that matters. In the end only you are the judge.