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Wild Fertility

A writing blog today…..

camille pissarro

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.

It’s glorious.

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.

14 comments to Wild Fertility

  • Kelly

    I’ve been writing in a couple different arenas, but should be focusing on only one! ;) I wrestle with revisions and running a business during the day. Lately though I realize I’m getting grumpy because I’m not writing enough for my liking. I’ve switched a few of my routines around and now write at night for a while. I put everything else away and just concentrate on the story in my head. It may only be for an hour or so, but I’ve found it to be just what I need.

  • Barbara Samuel

    I get grumpy, too, if I don’t write enough. Glad that hour or so is working!

  • I rarely meet an arena I don’t like, although during the last couple of years I’ve been a bit more focused more on projects I obsessively love. It takes longer to sell them (and some don’t sell at all) but I’m happier.

    Happy New Year, Barbara — may 2014 prove wildly fertile for you from January through December.

  • Wow Barbara! I don’t feel so overwhelmed with what’s on my plate after reading all yours. I’m halfway thru a sequel, got a prequel to finish, and a memoir/life-story project to start for someone else. I think just knowing of all the obligations makes it daunting. But I remind myself to feel blessed and fortunate.
    When my kids were babies I’d wake at 430am to get writing in and I was always surprised at my uninterrupted creativity in those wee hours. You’ve reminded me to do it again.
    BTW New Zealand is where my recent 40th bday was supposed to take place but we had to postpone it. I can’t wait to get there. Now I’m even more excited to read Random.

  • Barbara, I *love* that you love New Zealand, AND love that we get the opportunity to see you here!

    I’ve got a project I’ve got to get finished. Once it’s gone, I’ve got another project to start and finish–all similar to what I’ve done before. But then I get a chance to look up to the horizon. There are a couple of things building out there like great white clouds. I have a book that has been calling me for YEARS that I am to scared to write. Then there’s something that looks like a bit of fun. And, finally, I’ve been reading some of those wonderful pony books I loved so much as a child. They bring back memories of those first worlds I fell in love with, the first heroines I identified with. I still know some of those stories all most off by heart. I remember the moments of tension and despair. Even the chapterbreaks!! It’s been really interesting…

    I enjoyed your post very much–and look forward to your writing book–in addition to your other releases.

    • Barbara Samuel

      Love that image, Tessa, ideas building like great white clouds. It sounds like you’re in a fertile period, too!

  • So happy for you with your fab fertility! I write in two genres, and have pubbed in three. That’s just novels. I also write poetry, short stories, creative non-fiction. And I’m a former book reviewer and a blogger. 12 years a blogger:)

    Just started “All You Can Dream Buffet” and googled backblogger, which shows up a lot I. The first few chapters. I’d never heard the term! So I went to my trusty Kindle dictionary. No definition. Googled it. No definition although there is a blogger with that name:) urban dictionary: no definition. Slang dictionary: no definition. That’s where I stopped. I’ve read all your novels. I know what a careful writer you are.

    What the heck is a backblogger?

  • Barbara Samuel

    Hi, Cindy. Back blogger is just a term for people who contribute lots of comments to a blog. I thought it was a fairly common term and none of the editors or copy editors raised a flag that I recall. Sorry it stopped you.

  • Only for a minute. With Google right there on the tablet, I do it a lot these days. It’s amazing how many words Kindle does not know. Backblogger fits your story and also this post, lol. Am loving the journey of your characters, as always.

  • Hello Cindy, just went and bought your lastest after reading the first chapter on Amazon. Cant wait to read the rest! Never came across your books before, but this looks right up my street. Best, Giselle.

  • This is a most serendipitous post for me! I’ve been fighting against working on two projects at the same time, feeling like I’m supposed to focus on one book at a time – my naive vision of what “real writers” do :) no longer! Your inspiration is just the kick start I needed. Found you via pubrants today; your book sounds great!

  • Thinking of you this morning! Just finished your new book that I pre-ordered from Amazon and wrote a blog. Loved it, and thrilled so much of the Northwest was featured in it. But do not see it here yet? You must be very busy being creative.

  • I am up early today! Early for me is 7 AM~for years my work life has forced me to work late hours for the extra pay~that 10%/35% shift differential makes a BIG difference after a few raises. But the downside is always, always fighting my body’s schedule, and it’s taken its toll on my health this past year in a big way. So as spring slowly warms the earth here in Tennessee, I plan to bloom along with my garden. Reading so, so much: right now, Nora Roberts’ Born In trilogy, Little Ships by Kathleen Thompson Norris (who was the Nora Roberts of her day!), Lucianna by Bertrice Small, who’s been my favorite historical romance author since I read Skye O’Malley in high school, and another old favorite, the Crystal Singer trilogy by SF queen Anne McCaffrey. Blessed to be surrounded by wonderful books & lots of time to read!