I have the opportunity I wanted, now it's up to me to write a good book.

Not just a book good enough to win over a publisher, but one which will have a broad appeal to readers. I do believe that my writing is somehow attractive to editors, though I'm not sure it always  works the same with agents or readers who apparently have different requirements.

Why the difference?

I think that the agent's main focus is looking for a "money-maker" while the publishers' main focus is looking for a good book.

They aren't necessarily the same thing. Of course, there is a lot of grey between those two goals, and of course there are agents who support authors who they think are good writers regardless of saleability and there are publishers who pass on authors they think are good because of the lack of commercial possibilities.

But I think it holds up as a general observation.

The readers want yet other things. Either a rip-roaring fun read or a thought-provoking read or one that takes them someplace they've never been. Again, most books are a blend of those things.

The question of quality is an interesting one. I believe every writer is trying his best, however there are choices about how much revision a writer is willing to do, how much time they spend.

Mostly it comes down to intent. Do I want a quick book or a more thought out book?

Even that isn't always true though. A more drawn out process doesn't necessarily result in a better book. I personally believe that there is a qualitative "zone" that a writer inhabits, where most of their books will reside, though I also believe it is possible to occasionally break out of that zone through a fortuitous string of circumstances--or fall well below.

At this point in my career, I don't have as much doubt in the competence of my writing as I do in what to write.

In the end, I'll write the book I want to write, regardless. But a little rumination isn't a bad thing, though it probably seems pretty wish-washy to everyone else (especially the editor to whom I keep throwing half-baked ideas.)

A big discovery has been that the writing isn't what people notice--it's the underlying premise. That seems to be the most important thing. Of course, as a writer, I can't take that too seriously because I believe the quality of the writing sells the premise or doesn't. But it's interesting to me that the criticism is more about the content than about the way the content is presented.

I'm going to start my thriller on March 1. But I'm still undecided about which idea to pursue. I was leaning toward my "takeover" book, but now I'm leaning toward my "outdoor journalist on the run from city slickers" idea.

I'm thinking it might be wise to avoid the politics on my first book because it is an unnecessary complication. So the straight-ahead chase book is both easier and less problematic. It also has plenty of reader-pleasing possibilities, which is what I'm after the most.

Like I said, making the choice is the hard part. The actual writing will be a relief.