Monday, November 12, 2007's the book of my heart


There are a few things--a few phrases--I really hate. General stuff, like "We can't afford that" or "We don't carry half sizes" (stupid English shoe stores, what the fuck is your problem with half sizes? Do all English women have perfect-size feet?). More specialized phrases, like "Don't go there."

But the one that really gets on my nerves these days is "The book of [my, her, his, their, our] heart."
Why? Because it sounds sappy. Because it's redundant. All my books come from my heart (and I just gagged, even having to type that, but I had to make the point). And reeks of the Harriet Carter catalog, the home decorated entirely in calico fabric stuffed cats and potpourri, the appliqued sweater and bejeweled eyeglasses. Of women who think Beanie Babies are just darlin' and wear a lot of Black Hills gold.

Now, there's nothing inherently wrong with those things (well, except the Black Hills gold, but then I don't like gold in general). But neither are they really professional.

And therein lies the problem. When I see someone online talking about "the book of their heart" I immediately assume two things: One, that the person is a bit pretentious, because frankly I don't think what's in my heart (hate, lust, rage, the occasional urge for some fries) is all that special that people would be lining up to examine it; and two, that the person is a beginner. Because all of our books come from inside us. If you think there's something special about yours coming from there, you're not really familiar with this process.

Worse, denying that your book came from your heart then makes you sound cold and clinical. Like those "book of the heart" people are artistes; you're just some hack spitting out words in a calculated attempt to make some money. It's kind of like how in '97 everybody loved Titanic, and if you said you didn't even bother to see the film they eyed you with suspicion. (Yes, I speak from experience. Never saw it, never will.) It was as though I'd admitted I liked to slaughter babies on my off-hours, rather than simply choosing not to see a schmaltzy tragedy film with a soundtrack that registered just above Bryan Adams on the Irritating Scale, when I could have been watching Hard Boiled instead.

Even more bothersome is the idea that because a book came "from the heart" that automatically gives it more merit than other books. Hey, Mein Kampf came from the heart too. That doesn't mean it's a worthy book. (It's not. I've read parts of it, don't ask why it's a long story. It sucked. Obviously.) (Okay this is going to bug me. I had a rommate for a while, and one day her boyfriend "found" [so he claimed] a copy of the book, and he brought it to our place and left it there, and I was curious, and then I threw it away.)

Just because the book is "from your heart" doesn't mean the rest of us have to give a shit, and ultimately, I feel like that's what people are trying to force me to do when they say "This is the book of my heart." It feels like I'm being manipulated. It feels like someone plucking at my sleeve and demanding I care about them, then following me around with big mournful Keane painting eyes until I want to murder them with an axe.

So please, let's just avoid it from now on, okay?

Oh, and one other quick thing, just for my own benefit: a publisher that sends you edits when they do not have your signed contract or even the promise that they will get your signed contract is probably not a publisher who has their shit together enough to be worth your time. Thank you; I had to get it out, it was killing me.

Unholy Ghosts

New Words: 2,430
Total wordcount: 42,437
The Good: Yeah! Violence and sexiness!
The Bad: Oooh, bad guys breaking and entering and threatening…
The Gross: Well, injecting someone with WD-40 is pretty gross I guess.
The rampant drug use: Lines, pills.
Location: Chess’s apartment, Lex’s place
Downspeech: “Chess? Damn, baby, where you at? Terrible ripping this town apart looking for you, said your door open and your place all scraped? You alive?”
I Hate My Work: Oh, why do you suck so bad? This isn’t good. This is taking forever, because you are a hack.


Bernita said...

How I dislike the hive mind that demands you conform to their approach to emotion.

BernardL said...

"Hey, Mein Kampf came from the heart too."

LOL! Very funny Post, D. I had a one line answer for my kids when they said you've got to see 'Titanic' because they loved it: 'the ship sinks'.

Robyn said...

I saw Titanic, and felt like Kate Winslet was a pedophile. Leonardo DiCaprio still looks fourteen years old to me. The worst thing that movie did was give us Celine Dion's My Heart Will Go On. OY.

Do you think some authors may mean the 'book of their heart' is one that meant more to them personally, they worked harder on, etc.? I think one could just say "This one is my favorite" or "This one was a bitch to write, therefore I love it" and accomplish the same thought. Doesn't mean I'm more likely to buy it, though. ;)

bunnygirl said...

Robyn's interpretation is the one I've always attributed to the phrase. I think anyone who has written more than one book (published or not) has that one that's particularly special for one reason or another. Depending on who the author is, I might even be interested to know which book it is and why.

But mostly, yes, it's a big snore. Especially if the reason for the book being so special is because it taps the author's sappy childhood memory of watching the ants in her ant farm or something. @@

December/Stacia said...

Exactly, Bernita. I feel things my own way, thanks very much, and don't see why I need to discuss it with people or be subjected to their emotions either.

Yep, Bernard. The boat sinks; almost everybody dies. Yay, what a fun film. Not to mention that the families of the victims expressly asked Cameron not to film the actual wreck and he did anyway, thereby tramping all over the memories of those he claims to "honor", including the Scot who was a hero in life but is remembered as a slimeball thanks to Cameron's creative license.

Oh, Robyn and Angie, yes. I have one of those books, too. I call it my favorite. Or the one I'm most proud of. I don't feel the need to drag my heart into it in flowers-and-Pachelbel's-Canon fashion. And unfortunately, ngie, I believe you're right. "The book of the heart" is usually because it's about some lame thing nobody else cares about that means so much to the writer.

Camille Alexa said...

I saw five minutes of Titanic once on television a couple years ago. If it was a book, I would have thrown it in the trashcan.***

P.s. Book of the Heart sounds like a literary love child?

*** I hear people talk all the time about 'throwing a book across the room' or 'against the wall' to denote their disgust . For me, it's throwing it away. That's right: A book which was so bad, I actually thought its used self littering up a landfill was less polluting than littering up a freebie table or a library benefit sale.

Charles Gramlich said...

Good point about pretty much all books being a "book of the heart." I read Mein Kampf in college because I'd heard so much about it that I was curious as to what it actually said. I tell you what, if the allied leaders would have read it they would have known exactly what Hitler was like from the first and wouldn't have tried that appeasment approach.

I'm going to work on the book of my stomach next.

Gabriele C. said...

Lol, I've never seen Titanic, either. If I want to see sinking ships, I watch pirate movies. :)

December/Stacia said...

Hee, Camille, literary love child. Yep, the hubs and I were at the drive-in one night when they were showing Titanic, and we watched a couple of minutes because the boat was sinking and I wanted to watch it tip straight up and down, but it was taking ages and we just weren't interested enough to stay.

Very true, Charles. The guy was clearly a loon, even if you didn't know he was a loon the book would have told you. I found it interesting how he would lay out all of these logical arguments but follow them to exactly the wrong, illogical conclusion.
Lol on the book of your stomach.

Yay! Pirate movies, Gabriele! I like boats but Titanic


Injecting someone with WD-40: This story is all kinds of awesome.

"The book of my heart" = "You can't say anything bad about it because then you'll be the big meanie who made me cry and everyone will hate you."

Leo DiCaprio: He'll be 50 years old and still look like a 10-year-old. I will never be able to take him seriously as a leading man.

Garbage books: I can differentiate between "just not my taste" and "festering heap of mind-rotting trash." The former gets donated, the latter trashcanned to spare some unsuspecting soul the intellectual insult I suffered as a result of my brief exposure. Sometimes it's a public service.

Karen Erickson said...

I'm so with you here. I hate that book of my heart crap. An author said a long time ago you shouldn't refer to your books as your babies either. It's too sappy or whatever. I wanna say that was Nora! She is so practical, you gotta love her.

Sam said...

Ditto ditto ditto about everythign you said - especially the part about edits, lol.

Rebecca said...

'book of my heart' - sounds rather like the person is writing a memoir or something.

December/Stacia said...

Thanks Kerry! I was beginning to think I shouldn't post them anymore because nobody ever comments on them. Pout.
Yep, injected right in the carotid. Heh heh heh.

Abd you're right about the secret definition too. And Leo, and the crap book thing. Let's just say, Kerry is right about everything today, and possibly all the time.

If it wasn't Nora, I'd be very interested to know what she would say about it, because yeah, that sounds like an opinion she would have. I do love her, yes.

Did you see that, Sam? What originated the thing about edits? That's one publisher I would NEVER submit to. Sheesh.

Sometimes they are, Rebecca, but usually it's some boring book about Finding Life Again after the husband cheats, or perhaps Overcoming Food Addiction, or a boring romance in the vein of How Stella Got Her Groove Back but without a hot young guy.

Demon Hunter said...

I must agree that it is annoying, but I can honestly say that no one has ever said that to me. Thank goodness. :*)

Demon Hunter said...

I could not find your e-mail address. In any case, I added your link on my blog since I'm over here often and you're cool and I like reading your blog. Feel free to add me! :*)

Anonymous said...

"Book of my heart" isn't something you hear a lot in horror ;) I agree, I have called people out on calling books their babies before, and I will continue to do so. "Pre-published", "book of my heart" and "babies" are all word play designed to help a person impress upon others exactly what you said, the idea that their book should be judged on the emotion they put into it, not the merits of the writing.

I think it started as a counter to writing to trend, which means it's not originally a bad thing. but it has become so.

Anna J. Evans said...

"As the lady Wishes" is SO the book of your heart. It has hate, lust, rage, and LOTS of french fry eating (which you put in there)!!


I so just outed you ;)

anna j evans

December/Stacia said...

Oh, I wish I could say the same, DH, I wish I could.
Awesome, I will add your link right away!

Michele, I am inherently and deeply suspicious of any phrases designed to make one feel good about accomplishments they have not achieved, like "pre-published". An I also hate the way "book of my heart" implies only one story is truly loveable and worthwhile, too. Bleh.

Lol Anna, yes, I did put the fries in, didn't I? It's not a bad book is it? I liked it a lot more re-reading this time than I did when we were in edits. But Demon's Triad is definitely more rage and lust filled.

ERiCA said...

I never really got the book of the heart thing, either. My books are neither from nor not from my heart. Like you said, they all come from inside me, regardless. In a tangentially related topic, my friend Julie Leto has a great article on her web site about writing the book of your voice rather than the book of your heart.

Anonymous said...

I agree about the sappiness of that phrase -could it be considered hyperbole?

And you were right not to waste your time on Titanic. There was about one shot worth seeing -well for most men anyway. -V95

Sha'el, Princess of Pixies said...

Hi December,

You asked me to post the release specifics for Pixie Warrior when I had them. So here I am. Drollerie Press will release it as an e-book about November 25th or slightly sooner. It will be released as paperback about April 2008.

They're having a "celebrate the release, meet the author" chat on 11/25. I'd love it if you could come. Time is 4 PM Eastern ... umm I think that's 9 PM your time. Access is through this web page:

The link to chat becomes active just before chat time.

Oh! and the cover art is here:

If that doesn't work, it's also posted at

Everyone is welcome to come chat! I'd especially love to see you there.