Thursday, July 24, 2008


I have a secret. I'm a seasonal nonfiction writer. In winter, the fiction hits. The long dark days, the cold, the spiritual struggle of surviving winter in the Midwest makes me escape to reading and writing fiction. Characters and novels fill my soul. Nonfiction pales. I love my second life of creating made-up plots and puzzling out character connections.

But when Spring arrives, I shed my novel skin and I can't even remember why I wanted to write fiction. Spring wildflowers, hooray! Warblers, hooray! Gardening...why did I ever want to spend time away from nonfiction, the science of life sprouting around me?

That's where I am now. I am busy with caterpillars and flowers and nesting birds. Field guides are my life. A stack of novels to read and write lies unloved. Who needs fiction? I am reading about the origins of fruit and the science of stars. My brain is sponging up documentaries on LINK TV. The overgrowth of life and ideas presses against me, making me wonder how much I will be able to uncover and explore in my life. Nonfiction is my season!

But I warn you. I have another side, and it will arrive...oh, around late November. That's when those winter dreams will sprout fiction. Unless I can find a way to go the tropics, where the green may bring my nonfiction back to life. Perhaps if I lived in Southern California, I would be nonfiction all year long. Or would I? And would that be a good thing? Hmm...

I am guessing some of you other readers/writers out there have a seasonality to your subject matter, too. Let me know if I am right!

By the way I recommend you add another patriotic book to your library. Farmer George Plants A Nation by Peggy Thomas, published by Calkins Creek, an imprint of Boyds Mills Press. I dig this book! And digging is appropriate because it brings forth the life of George Washington as a farmer and scientist. It is so great to see a man, mostly understood as soldier or statesman, in the life that fed him: his trees, gardens, and experiments with agriculture. Apparently, his letters were filled with farm life and farm instructions, even when he was on the battlefield. We all have our roots.

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