Which is great in theory, but difficult in practice.
Once you're published there's lots of white noise going on in the background that's almost impossible to ignore. Everyone has an opinion and you feel pressure (right or wrong) from all angles -- readers, your agent, your publisher, bloggers, fellow authors, book reviewers. Do their opinions matter? Of course. But at some point you realize you can't allow them to hijack your writing either, because then you risk killing your inner voice which could lead to pumping out one vanilla-like novel after another, and who wants that?
I like the 'Go Big or Go Home' mantra, and as I write these days that's what's been going through my mind. Right or not, I've been trusting my instincts more with this novel than I did with the other three. Will doing so make it a stronger book? Only time will tell, but I can tell you that the journey has been far more enjoyable and empowering, so it's all good.
Other tidbits of interest:
Two weeks ago, my thirteen-year-old asked if he could read my novel, The Tin Box. (He's become a reading machine and had temporarily run out of books). Right now, he's halfway done and yesterday he searched me out to tell me he cannot believe I wrote it, one of the most backwards compliments a mom can get. I think.
My eleven-year-old is going to be a pen pal to a girl in Britain. He brought home a permission form and explained that all of the girls in his class had signed up to be her pen pal but no boys, which he thought was sexist, so he decided to write her so she doesn't think Canadian boys are jerks.
Construction work on my street has screeched to a halt for winter (insert heavenward high-five) which means I no longer have a porta-potty in my yard, the phone/internet line won't keep getting cut off for days at a time and we won't get evacuated like we did last month because they've hit another gas line (who hires these people?!)
Last of all, happy holiday season everyone, and thanks for all your kind emails in 2009, readers! Your comments and encouragement mean more to me than you can imagine.