Oh, I can feel those labor pains. The Floater is in head-down position, and I’m at six centimeters. Just one reader left, whose feedback I await with bated breath. But the comments I've received from test readers thus far have proven invaluable. I am excited—and scared! My baby is about to be born, and somehow, I sense that her emergence will, like the birth of a new family member, change my life in unimaginable ways big and small.

At this juncture, I cannot help but take stock of my first two offspring: First, we have Later With Myself: The Misadventures of Millie Moskowitz. My firstborn is loud, rude, and embarrassingly obnoxious. She’s like a bull in a china shop—you don’t especially want to witness this bloodbath, but like a shocking reality TV show, are strangely drawn to the mayhem and destruction left in the wake of such toxic family relationships. My “middle child,” An Unexpected Exile, is quite a bit tamer, but she’s still an oddball—well-bred and multicultural, she is too esoteric to "fit in" and is having a bit of a hard time "making friends” who understand and accept her.

And now, I am about to introduce a third young’un into the mix, The Floater, an odd hybrid of satirical law firm parody and graphic-yet-poignant multiracial love story. Alas, my literary life would be so much easier if I simply produced, to quote my latest test reader, “a book about a young lawyer on Park Avenue getting murdered by his jealous ex and his partner solving the case. Sexy detective involved.” This particular reader accused me of “dumping in a book” (Later With Myself); she further opined that my stories are too “heavy,” and to be successful as a writer, I must “go light.” But what if I do not wish to write formulaic drivel that panders to the masses, even if that's what sells?

I did some soul-searching and pondered the reasons why I choose to write the things I do. First, I want to assure existing and prospective readers alike that, despite the gritty themes contained in my admittedly semi-autobiographical first novel, I do not harbor unresolved angst about my childhood—or my father. I came to terms with my upbringing years ago; had I not, I could never be living the full, highly-functional and happy life I now lead. Writing Later With Myself might have proven somewhat therapeutic, I will admit; but that was an unintended and unanticipated side effect of a purely creative effort. And while I loathed the prospect of putting my personal history “out there” in novel form, what prompted me to write and publish this book was the simple fact that it is a compelling story that deserved to be told. Clearly, I would have an easier time marketing and selling my books if I wrote less offensive content in a more definable genre. But I have come to realize this much: I could write a completely marketable, “light” book that still might not sell—not because I lack talent as a writer, but simply because I am unknown.

Besides, I can think of several authors off the top of my head who have successfully published “heavy” stories: Jonathan Frantzen for one; Wally Lamb (whose writing style and market niche I can aspire to); Lionel Shriver, who wrote We Need to Talk About Kevin—a fabulous book that was made into a motion picture. (And you don’t get any heavier than a 16-year old boy shooting up his school, and the anguish and torment his mother goes through reliving his perverse childhood in letter form. Ahem, talk about “telling” vs. “showing.” Yet somehow, Shriver managed to pull it off!) And then there’s A Happy Marriage by Rafael Yglesias, a gem of a story about a man who nurses his wife through the final stages of her cancer. One need only look at the author bio on the back flap to assume that, like Later With Myself, this is a largely autobiographical work. Was Yglesias “dumping in a book”? I don't think so.

And what about Joyce Carol Oates, with her consistent male-bashing and sexually-tinged themes? I could go on and on, but my point is, one can be successful writing about intelligent, dark, challenging, edgy, and yes, highly personal subject matter. That is the type of writer I strive to be.

To put it differently, I want my books to say something distinctive and thought-provoking, not simply waste paper (and people’s brain cells). I want to move readers, as well as entertain them. To me, it’s the difference between eating a home-cooked meal and a Snickers bar. Sure, sometimes you want the candy bar, and it’s just the thing. But if all you eat are Snickers bars, you will never be nourished. Call me a snob, but to me, reading is about expanding one’s mind and challenging our fixed assumptions, while being entertained and drawn in at the same time. A good writer will do that. If I don’t do this already, then by all means trash my books with one-star reviews until I do, because you deserve nothing less from me.

I take comfort in knowing that there are all kinds of people in the world who like all sorts of weird things. I trust there is a market within this marvelous Goodreads audience that wants what I have to offer. But if there isn’t, I will not alter what I have to say one iota in the interests of commercial success. If The Floater at last brings me the literary recognition I so crave, then my life will be sweet beyond my wildest imagination. But if it doesn’t, I am already richer and wiser for having conceived each of my three "babies"—however unmarketable they may be.