Friday, September 14, 2007

You're All My Favorites

I don't know if any of you have seen this book (You're All My Favorites by Sam McBratney), but if you have kids or grandkids, you should pick it up. Very sweet story about three little bears (siblings) who wonder which one their mother and father love best. I was reading this story to my 2 yr old last night (who is suddenly fascinated with books of any kind), changing the bear names to fit my three Gremlins names, and had one of those wow! moments about writing and blocks and the struggles we face as writers that hit you from out of the blue.

One night, after Mommy Bear had tucked them in, and after she had said, "You are the most wonderful baby bears in the whole wide world," the baby bears began to wonder.

"But how do you know?" they asked their mommy bear. "How do you know we are the most wonderful baby bears in the whole wide world?"

"Because your daddy told me," said Mommy Bear. "When your daddy saw you on the night you were born, he said - and I remember it very well - he said, 'Those are the nicest baby bears I have ever seen. They are the nicest baby bears anyone has ever seen!'"

That was a good answer. The three baby bears snuggled down as content as could be.

But one day, the first baby bear began to wonder . . .

A non-writer friend of mine asked me the other day which book I've written is my favorite. Kind of a timely question because I just finished The Book From Hades and zipped it off to my agent last night. I thought her question would be an easy one to answer, but it wasn't. I actually stood there dumbfounded for a moment. And then I realized what most writers already know - or have accepted - and which I have been slow on the uptake. Every book I write is my favorite at the time I'm writing it and sometimes for a while after.

Wow. Epiphany. And my friend's question, coupled with reading this book to my son, solidified it all in my mind. The problem I was having with The Book From Hades wasn't that it was a bad story or that I couldn't make it work. It was simply that I loved the one I wrote before it so much, I was sure I couldn't write something as great as that again. Or at the very least - I was afraid I wouldn't love it as much as I loved that book.

It's no great surprise I have struggled with The Book From Hades. You've all heard me grumble about it. There were times I thought I would never get it done, that it was a POS, that no one in their right mind would want to read it because there were days I didn't even want to write it. But I pressed on. One, because I'm stubborn and when I commit to something, I'm in it for the long haul no matter what. And two because there has always been something about this story - though I may have loathed it at times - that made me write it in the first place. While editing it this week, reading through the whole thing from start to finish, I remembered that. I remembered what it was about these two characters that made this story come alive for me. I remembered why it was so important I put this story down on paper. Whether my agent likes it or not, whether it sells or not, is irrelevant to me this morning. Because I'm happy with the end product and what I accomplished by finishing the manuscript.

Alice talked the other day about what it is we want to do better with our writing and I mentioned red herrings and plot points. But that's not true. The one thing I want to do with my writing is enjoy the process along the way. I know there are points where I will hate a book, want to kick the keyboard to the curb and strangle my hero for being a jerk. I know from experience even the most fully-formed book in my head will slog down at the 3/4 mark because that is my pattern. Just like I know I will most likely cry when it's over and realize though I may have hated it at the time, it really was my favorite book.

I read an interview by another writer - I can't remember who - but in a nutshell she said every book you write has to be your favorite or else you won't put your heart and soul into the characters and the story. She's completely right. When I finally fell in love with my characters again, dove back in to finish it and edited the thing as a whole, I remembered that it is my favorite. They are all my favorites.

What about you? Do you have a favorite book you've written?


Paty Jager said...

Good Blog!

I have different favorites. Perfectly Good Nanny is my favorite because it took the least amount of research.

Now, Marshal in Petticoats is my favorite because it was my first published book.

And Gambling on an Angel is my favorite because I loved the characters.

Outlaw in Petticoats is my favorite because I traipsed across the central part of Oregon after outlaws. LOL

And the second historical romance I wrote was my favorite because it finaled in a contest and the editor who read it loved my characters.

Way back the first Historical romance I wrote was my favorite because the love scene finaled in my first contest and made me realize this was the genre I wanted to write in.

LOL I could go on and one with all ten books I've ever written. Yes, Eli they are all my favorites or there wouldn't have been any sense in writing them in the first place!

Elisabeth Naughton said...

I like that, Paty. Favorites for different reasons. It makes perfect sense to me.

Alice Sharpe said...

I'm baaacckkk...

I'm one of those for whom my favorite book is the one I have just finished. But I have other favorites, as well, and some of them are favorites because I researched them while on a vacation and thus the vacation spot is now mine. Or because I really empathized with the heroine. Or felt bad for her. Or because I cringed when I read what the bad guy was thinking of doing. Or this or that.

I'm glad your children were happy with Mama bear's explanation of favorites. I had a stock answer for my kids. If my daughter asked, which one of us is your favorite, I'd say, "Your bother." If my son asked, I'd say, "Your sister."

Worked perfectly. Might account for their senses of humor, as well. Or why I get so damn few Mother's Day cards. Hmm---

Paty Jager said...

LOL, Alice!

My kids never asked who was my favorite?? Does that mean they knew they were each special or they didn't want to be my favorite.... Hmmm, makes me wonder.

Genene said...

Good question, Eli! And I really like the responses you got: each book is special or a favorite for different reasons. That's true for me too.

Anther reason each book is special: I learn something with each one. As I research a topic or dig for a motive or watch a character grow over the course of a story, I also grow and learn things about myself. That's very cool.

Now, I'm going to walk my very patient doggies, then wrap up my WIP, even if I have to pull an all-nighter!

Karen Duvall said...

My kids all think they know who my favorite is but won't tell me who they think that is. Now how's that for bewildering, lol! 8^) But my son has always been convinced, no matter what I say to the contrary, that I love the girls more than I love him. Sigh.

As for book favorites, I love Paty's answer and I concur. Though I have to tell you I pretty much loathe the first book I wrote. I appreciate it for its educational value, but I still loathe it.

Right now if I was to love the book I'm working on, I'd have to be divided because I love two. The paranormal mystery I'm turning into a YA asap because Nephele Tempest asked to see it (yikes!), and, of course, my Chalice book, now retitled CURSED. I just hope that title doesn't have a subliminal meaning. Hmm...

But I'm very excited about both projects as I write this in my hotel room at the Colorado Gold conference in Denver. It's been awesome here, as usual, but I have to attribute that to the dozens of close, close writer friends I have here. My enthusiastic reception has overwhelmed me with joy.

AND my workshop with senior editor Liz Schiere went extremely well. She had glowing things to say about my synopsis and ten pages, said it was cool and one of the more original plot ideas she's seen in a long time. Yes!

Karen (bleary eyed and starving because continental breakfasts just don't do it for me. I need sustenance!)

MaryF said...

Any book I'm not currently working on ;)

I hated Hot Shot when I was revising it, but I think it may be my favorite.