Keeping it Fresh

For me writing is vocation, avocation, vacation, and variation. I’ve never gone with a publisher who is sold on the concept of branding because I know I have to go where the spirit leads. This is so intrinsic to my nature it comes out in many ways.

Before writing for publication, I expressed my creativity through fine arts of various forms. I had great success with clay sculptures that sold through a wonderful shop in historic Old Colorado City. I had an amazing following of collectors, some of whom would buy things sight-unseen that the proprietor would ship around the country. I loved creating these pieces and seeing what whimsy would come out when I sat down and took up the clay. What was the kiss of death? Orders. Prepaid orders. My husband would say, “It’s money in your hand. You don’t have to wait and see if something will sell. They already want it.” He did not understand that having an expectation hanging over me somehow killed the process. I would grit my teeth and make the thing, which was not at all the same as watching with delight what my fingertips wrought.

I don’t believe I could do a book for hire, or take on a preset project. I could not write, as some authors happily do, the same style story over and over again no matter how popular that formula was. Writing, like sculpture, is something I open up to, something that overtakes and carries me along. And it has to be fresh and variable. That’s why I love weather so much–it changes!

I’ve been working on a historical series, delving into settings and devouring actual news of the time etc. and I am excited about the stories that are coming out of that. I love how deep the characters are becoming and the different ways the stories are going. But…

I happened to open the contemporary wildfire novel I have in process the other day, and, wow, am I loving sinking my teeth back into that. So it seems with several stories in process, I am creatively energized by change and variation. It brings a freshness and joy to the process and keeps me at it and excitedly working scene after scene. Some might call this scatterbrained, but I guess I’d say why not? We use so little of our brains, why not fire up those resting neurons with a change of pace now and then?

Anyone else get this way? How do you keep it fresh?

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9 Responses to Keeping it Fresh

  1. Maureen Lang says:

    I totally connected with your post, Kristen. I can be working on two or three writing projects at the same time, and reading a couple of books at the same time, too – not to mention reading non-fiction research books. When I open a file or open the cover of a book (or put on headphones to listen to a book on tape) I know which world I’m entering, and I love it. If I’m not, or if I come to something I need some distance from in one of my own projects, it’s easy to step back because I know I have another project or set of characters to fill my mind. Scatterbrained? Maybe. Or maybe we just like our brains to be filled with fresh challenges, and this way even old challenges can be fresh again.

    • Yes, exactly. For me, everything goes into that creative river, and sometimes what comes out are deep still pools and sometimes it’s whitewater rapids. All part of the journey.

  2. Marianne says:

    Kristen and Maureen … I just want to tell you how much I love your books. I call myself a Christian, and I learn things from your novels both about myself and about this daily walk we are in. THANKS a million times, because once just is not enough

  3. bethrachg says:

    Kristen,

    No wonder all your stories are so fresh and your characters so deep! I totally hear you on formula writing–I am there and I can tell you it does suck the creativity right out. Can’t wait to read your next book.

    Beth

  4. Cindy says:

    We creative types need that “freshness”! I have often thought how I would absolutely hate to have to be creative “on demand”. I am so greatful to you, Kristen, for being true to yourself and allowing yourself to write for the love and not for the paycheck. Your stories and your characters are so beautiful, strong, and timeless. Your readers benefit greatly from your writing. Thanks again for the work you do.

  5. Cathe says:

    I have exactly that problem with commissioned (paid-in-advance) quilts. I love the creative work, and it flows best when there isn’t that obligation hanging over me.

    Your stories help keep me sewing – I enjoy being read to while I work. You have good readers for your audiobooks. :)

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