After writing about flowing rivers in my last post, I woke up this morning singing River, by Bill Staines. When my children were young we spent weeks at a family camp in Highlands, North Carolina. And every summer, we sang:
River, take me along in your sunshine, sing me a song
Ever moving and winding and free
You rolling old river
You changing old river
Let’s you and me river, run down to the sea
You can see the songwriter himself perform River here, on YouTube. I love everything about this song, but let’s hope I don’t burst into Old Man River in the next few days, a subject I covered thoroughly in Iron Lace and Rising Tides.
I just sent my newest novel to my editor, and along with the joy comes the exhaustion. If I’m not careful after a book, my river of creativity dries up, and desperate measures are called for. So now, I’m trying to find ways to nurture the leftover trickle that’s still running “down to the sea.”
In my last post I talked about resting and not thinking. I’m still doing this, but afternoon naps can’t go on forever, right? So what else am I doing to keep my personal river moving and winding and free? I’m devouring other people’s novels.
Lots of writers either don’t have the time to sink into a good book when they’re writing, or they choose not to because they don’t want their own voice to be altered by whatever they’re reading.
I’m not one of the latter. I love reading too much to avoid it while I’m writing, so I always have a good book beside my bed, for whatever time I can make myself stay awake at day’s end. But I am careful not to read books that are similar to the one I’m working on, as much to avoid finding that someone else already had the same idea already, as to worry about borrowing theirs.
This means when I’m writing women’s fiction novels, like Sister’s Choice, which came out this past summer or Happiness Key which comes out next summer, I read mysteries or fantasy, anything that’s not akin to my own work. Last night I stayed up until 1AM finishing All Mortal Flesh by Julia Spencer-Fleming. And on my Ipod, I’m listening to The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson. Wonderful books, both of them.
Since I just finished my bedtime novel, today I have the distinct pleasure of choosing another. That alone is an exercise in creativity. My TBR (to be read) stack is one mile high. I look forward to sorting it today. And as I do, I’ll be thinking about what makes a good book, and what particularly appeals to me. Now how does that apply to my novels and my readers? How can I make sure my own novel is in consideration for their precious time?
Let’s you and me river, run down to the sea.