A writing blog today…..
I’m in the midst of an enormously fertile period. I’m writing in several genres, including a non-fiction project. This morning I awakened to write the next scene in a book that will eventually become a Barbara O’Neal book. There is soup and a lost child and dogs, but the underpinnings of this work have been very dark and hard to digest. It suddenly seems ready, however, so that was where I poured my energies this morning.
I’m also working on a non-fiction book for a British publisher (to be distributed through MacMillan in the US) on writing romantic fiction. The offer came out of the blue, but as I’d been in teaching mode through the spring, it was exactly the right project for me to write on the side, coalescing some of my ideas into a form that can be digested more easily than my exuberant but scattered blogs here.
There is also the matter of Lark, who keeps coming up with new ideas and concepts for her ongoing work in two arenas, The Otherlands and Going the Distance. Look for more on both of those series in the near future (the 1st installment of The Otherlands will be published sometime in January, an exact date to be determined when I clear the decks and finally finish the line edits.)
All this work! You would think I’d be going crazy, feeling overworked and overwhelmed, but quite the opposite is true. I have not been so in love with work in many years, and as I was sitting in my chair yesterday, watching it snow and doing some research reading into foster children, I did pause for a moment to realize I feel like I moved to a new land. I’d been chiseling work out of the hard granite, chipping away a nugget at a time, and it took a lot of hard work and time to do it.
Suddenly, and I do mean suddenly—at the very end of May—I have moved to a completely different place. This is delta bottom farmland, rich with silt and sunlight and the perfect conditions for growing hearty fields of crops. My mind feels utterly engaged, my heart excited. I get up and go to work every morning at 4:30 without complaint, even with eager intention. My daily production rates have tripled and show signs of quadrupling. I’m back to the younger me who wanted the world to go away and leave her alone so she could write more, more, more.
And I don’t really know why it happened. Was it the switch to getting up early? I think that has helped. I am enormously productive during that 90-120 minute block. It’s as if I’m giving myself an extra work day, every work day. My evenings were never, are never particularly productive. I watch television. I might read, but am often too tired to do any serious reading. I putter around after dinner, and for ages I’ve been ready to go to bed around 8, but would hang on for whatever reason. For about a year, I’ve been practicing the early work, but it really took root when CR decided he wanted to try swimming in the early morning. Now we both want to be asleep early and get up early together, and on days we decide not to get up so early, we get those extra zzz’s. Healthy.
The other thing that I’ve done is give myself permission to totally play in my work, take chances, see what happens. I’ve done some novellas, purely for me, playing with the form, seeing what I like. I’ve made a big return to romance in the new adult and young adult series, but the books are very different from each other. The young adult is soft science fiction, highly romantic and with epic adventure undertones. The new adult is very sexy and lots of fun, but has a serious undertone, too: Jess has to find out who she is—and that means making mistakes, discovering her history and deciding what things matter most to her. It’s also set in part in New Zealand, which you all know I’ve fallen in love with. The Otherlands is deeply rooted in my love for the sff genre and I carried it around with me for ages before I realized that I could just….go ahead and write it. I also have an entire 5 (6?) book series planned as a tie-in/continuation of the St. Ives historicals, all growing out of our travels to England and New Zealand.
And don’t forget the women’s fiction. I love it a lot. My new book, The All You Can Dream Buffet, is one of my favorites so far. I love the characters and the setting of a lavender farm, and these women who have all had life challenges. It was engrossing and required a huge amount of research and recipe testing, and it went back and for the between my editor and I several times, but the end result is one I am very pleased with. I hope you will be, too.
I believe this fertile, wild productivity is the result of me giving myself permission to do that play. I can do it because of indie publishing, and I don’t have to worry that I’ll starve or that I’ll flop at a new publishing house. I can take big chances, play in a lot of different arenas. Because I’m the one taking the risks, and I don’t need to sell 50,000 books to break even. Because I am more in charge of everything, I don’t feel that creeping anxiety that plagues all working writers over how many books are selling here and there and everywhere. I am much freer to write the books arriving today. I am very deeply enjoying the balance between my work for traditional publishing and my own publishing, a luxury that I couldn’t have imagined even five years ago.
This is not everyone’s ideal scene, I get that. I have friends who need and like to focus on one book for a couple of years at a time. I also have others who like writing lots of books, but mostly in the same arena. That’s fine. My brain has always loved variety and mix-ups and new challenges. Sometimes I’ll fall on my face, but that’s fine, too. So far, the fields are growing very well, producing a good many crops. I hope I will be wise enough to recognize when/if winter arrives and asks me to rest.
Do you like to write in many arenas or focus on one? Do you find there are wildly productive periods in your life, and less productive ones?
PS I’m pulling away from blogging so much elsewhere and will be spending more time here. Hope you’ll join in the conversation.