By the time I’m done writing a book I’m usually sick of it. Yes, seriously. Really, really sick of it. But, over time, after being away from it for a while, I regain the ability to read it and like it and view it relatively objectively. However, even when my tolerance for a piece of writing is at it’s all-time lowest, I always have favorites. Favorite scenes, favorite portions of each book. Conversations and descriptions that for some reason resonated with me in a really significant way. Ironically, my favorites are rarely the favorites that my readers mention. It’s interesting to me when I learn which snippets and portions they felt the most strongly about, because they’re often parts that I wouldn’t have guessed were favorites.
The thing about any art, fiction included, is that it is a relationship between the consumer and the work itself. When you look at a painting, you are seeing and feeling things about it that are wholly dependent on the unique interaction between you and that painting. It’s the same thing with reading. And what a lot of authors don’t seem to realize is that even though they’re the creator of the work, that doesn’t mean they’re the only one who will have a relationship with it. When they get upset about negative reviews, they forget that just like all sorts of people will have relationships with their child (teachers, peers, grandparents), all sorts of people will have relationships with their book (readers, editors, reviewers). And every one of those relationships is unique. It doesn’t mean their own interaction with the book is less important, just that it’s not the only one.
As I finish the last third of my May release, For the Love of a Lush, I find myself looking for my favorite scenes, and wondering if any of those that I’ve picked will also be picked by readers. I also start to look back at favorite scenes in previous books. Two stand out to me always — one from A Lush Betrayal and one from Concealed. I’ve copied portions of them below. I’d love to hear what some of your favorite scenes are — from my books, or your books (if you write), or some other books entirely — because everyone has a favorite.
A Lush Betrayal
He finally looks up at me. His face is blank as he lifts the beer to his nose and inhales deeply. Then he slowly pours it out on the floor beneath our table. He sets the mug back down firmly.
“And I love Tammy. I can’t help it yet, but I’m sure as hell going to try.” He stands up and reaches back into the corner behind the table. He pulls out his favorite old duffle bag and swings it over his shoulder. “I’ve got a flight to catch. My sponsor’s meeting me and we’re taking a little trip together. I’ll send you an address where you can forward any paperwork about the band. I’ll let you handle the press about the breakup. You were always better at that stuff. Spin it any way you want. I don’t give a damn.”
“Walsh,” I plead.
“See you around, Joss.” He gives me one last look and turns. As he leaves, I see my entire childhood leave with him—my home, my family, everything that I loved— all gone in one blinding moment as he walks from the dark, dank bar into the bright sunshine of the blazing California day beyond.
It’s nearly midnight, I can’t sleep, and I’m sitting on the front porch of my parents’ house, listening to the Tejano music station on the old radio my dad keeps out here. The accordions are rendered even fuzzier by the static, and I swing slowly in the ancient metal two-seat glider that’s sat here my entire life. Every three or four years, my dad hauls it out to the driveway and spray paints it with a new coat. Then he puts it right back on the porch, saying that none of those fancy new gliders at Walmart can hold a candle to this vintage piece of steel.
“You were always special.” Tomás’s voice comes to me from the dark doorway of the house where he stands and leans against the doorframe.
I snort. “Yeah, right.”
“No, seriously. I remember when you were a tiny thing, maybe two or three. You used to go outside by yourself before anyone else in the house was awake. You’d find all of these roly poly bugs around the yard and you’d relocate them. We’d find you out here, moving handfuls of those stupid things from one end of the yard to another. When I finally asked you one day why you did it, you said, ‘I move the ones who don’t have a good home to where they will ‘cause it’s not fair for some of them to live where it’s nice and the rest don’t get to.’”
He moves quietly over to the glider and sits next to me, putting his arm across the back of the seat and letting his hand drift down until it rests on my shoulder.
Together we push the old glider back and forth gently, picking up a rhythm easily, because we’re brother and sister and somewhere inside we feel each other, even when we’ve been mostly apart for years.