Anyone who reads Hallways in the Night can probably tell I’m a serious Bruce Springsteen fan based upon some of the references I drop throughout the book. As a matter of fact, I use a Bruce reference early on in the story to portray the extent of a heat wave in Atlanta by saying that my protagonist, Dave Mackno, “had been trying to kill time by listening to some Springsteen tapes, but the batteries in his Walkman were almost dead, which made it sound like even the Boss was beginning to wilt in the summer heat.”
I thought the image would resonate with readers because of Bruce’s well-earned reputation for seemingly limitless energy. It’s one of the things I admire most about “the Boss.” He is a performer who leaves everything he has onstage every single night.
I don’t think anyone who has ever attended a Bruce Springsteen concert ever left without feeling they got their full money’s worth. That’s because of the respect Bruce has for his fans. It’s a compact with them that he seems to treat as sacred.
One of the things that makes Bruce special is he doesn’t just have this attitude when playing in front of thousands of fans in Wembley Stadium or Madison Square Garden. He brings the same level of passion and commitment no matter how many fans are in the audience or where he is playing. It’s an approach he has used since he first began to perform.
Whether playing in front of 10 or 10,000 fans, Bruce always put on the best possible show he could. Of the thousands of shows Bruce has played, I don’t think he ever once “phoned it in.” It would go against everything he believes in and the work ethic for which he is known. A work ethic and commitment to his audience that I wanted to emulate when I wrote Hallways in the Night.
When I began Hallways in the Night, I was determined to make it the best possible book I could write, no matter it if was to be read solely read by friends and family, or if it was eventually read by thousands of readers. The truth is, while writing it, I didn’t spend much time thinking about how many books I might sell. Instead, like Bruce, I tried to focus on delivering the best product possible so that every reader would know I respected their investment and commitment to the book.
And by “investment,” I’m not just referring to the cost of the book. In the big scheme of things, the monetary cost of a book is a secondary consideration to the real investment readers make. That investment is of the one resource they can never get back once spent: their time.
When writing Hallways in the Night, I never forgot that I would be asking readers to invest approximately 10 to 20 hours of their life reading my book. It’s a big commitment on the part of a reader and it’s one I was determined to honor.
That’s why I cut my book down from over 400 pages to a little over 300 pages. I was aggressive in my editing because I wanted the novel to have a steady pace without any slow parts. And that’s why I also proofread and edited the book dozens of times. I wanted the final product to be reflect how serious I took my responsibility to readers.
Now that my book is published, I’m glad I made the choice to treat my book the way Bruce has always treated his music and his concerts. I’m glad I gave the process everything I had because I know I don’t have enough talent or ability to give less than 100% and expect to write a book worthy of a readers’ time.
Perhaps that’s the same reason Bruce always gave everything he had to his work, too. Perhaps, as amazingly talented as he is, he thought he needed to put everything he had into every song and every concert if he wanted to achieve his dreams.
Or maybe Bruce did it because he didn’t want to have any regrets. That’s an attitude to which I can completely relate: “no regrets.”
Because I put my absolute best into writing Hallways in the Night, I will have no regrets no matter what happens. I will never have to look back and wonder “what if” in regard to having tried or worked harder on the book.
Like the Boss, in some ways because of the Boss, I gave Hallways in the Night my all, and I will always be grateful to Bruce for setting an example that I tried to follow.