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?