My royalty check for my least favorite book showed up early! It was larger than expected, too, which has created a bit of a windfall for me, and just in time for the holidays no less.
I should probably stop referring to this book as my “least favorite” because, due to the fact it’s been out the longest, it has brought in the most money thus far. But it was such a tough book to work on, for numerous reasons. It was a collaborative effort, which in and of itself was not so difficult, but was – how you say – interesting at times. It also dealt with some difficult issues; in particular, it deals with Borderline Personality Disorder, a specific mental illness diagnosis that explains my husband’s ex-wife’s outrageous behaviors.
This book, with the short title “Love & Loathing” was a result of thinking “one of these days I’m going to make money off of this experience.” And thus it came to pass that as I studied the disorder, I found resources, and by finding resources, I found my co-author. One dot connecting to the other leads the way to each royalty check.
Sometimes I even forget I’m expecting this one to come in, and then it shows up and surprises me, and I’ll admit it – I get a perverse little thrill off knowing I’m continuing to make a bit of money from the woman who made my life so miserable for so many years. She tried to tear apart my family, and successfully brainwashed my son (okay, my step-son, but you’ll never convince me that he isn’t mine), although that was a temporary success for her.
Primarily my reason for referring to this book as my least favorite is that it dredges up some very sad and painful memories each time it is brought back to my conscious thought. I’m repeatedly reminded of the damage that woman tried to do, and could try again if she gets crazy enough. And since she refuses to admit that she has an illness, and refuses to take medication or seek counseling, the possibility of her lashing out at my family or me is a legitimate concern. For the last few years, however, we’ve been lucky.
One of the great things about being a writer is that, no matter what it is you are forced to deal with, you can bank the experiences for later when they may serve a good purpose in a book. Unfortunately, it also means that you hold on to those emotions and those unpleasant memories for the sake of reliving them at some future point, and if you’re not careful, that can damage an otherwise healthy psyche.
I’m drawn repeatedly to Alice Flaherty’s “The Midnight Disease” and its discussion of what drives gifted writers, and how it borders on mental illness itself. She says “An outsider (a writer who suffers with some mild form of mental illness) may have startling thoughts about normal life, whereas we know all too well what the sane have to say.” Thus, while the “emotionally healthy” people may choose to release old memories and feelings and move forward, the creative person – writer – chooses to carry those things with him or her for use later when they are necessary to a scene or a character.
All of these reasons, personal and impersonal, cause me to treat my first book as the so-called red-headed step-child of my work. But when that royalty shows up, I’m forced to contend with the issues surrounding that book’s very existence, as well as with my own issues pertaining to writing and emotional health. It’s a good check-up a few times each year, for which I guess I’m grateful.
But truthfully, I’m eager for my other books to pass this one by in terms of economic success.