Toggling. I think that’s the word. It’s got a good ring, anyway. Attending to one thing here, another there – specifically writing across genres – is giving my new meditation muscles extra gymnastic training. As I bounce between diverse projects with varying levels of responsibility and reward, I’m trying to keep in check all the concomitant emotional dashing about that my mind’s been doing lately. (I’ve taken from my foray into meditation – novice of novices I am – permission to write about my mind as a kind of third party. It seems a little weird but kind of fun, too.)
All praise to the focus of singular dedication; but for the time being, I’m embracing my ADHD approach to the creative life – writing historical fiction here, some soul-searching essay-ing there, a bit of screenwriting, back to the Bible scholarly-ish nonfiction, YA fantasy fiction, a quirky-girl novel with food, a fish-out-of water gardener, and tons of reading both fiction and non for the anonymous reviews I provide to a big muckety-muck publication and just for me. Along the way, it’s happy one minute, demoralized the next, intrigued and entertained, despairing, elated, awed, and inspired. Whew, no wonder the mindfulness thing is what it is. Steady on.
Perhaps one day, I’ll settle down, pick a genre, and do only that. I do love to think in terms of series… As it is, it helps that the projects are in varying stages, from final edits on my God of Earth: Discovering a Radically Ecological Christianity creative nonfiction to a brand new project under contract with Oxford University Press to the tentative exploring of writing out yet another story to everything in between: historical fiction ready to go, tweaking my Harriet Tubman biopic (already an award- winner – yay!), and fiction rewrites on deck. Meanwhile, truth be told, each individual project draws me into its world of imagination and its particular demands for expression. So maybe there’s a singular focus, after all. It’s just that it keeps changing.
Or maybe I’m kidding myself toggling diverse projects, and the whole meditation enterprise (not to say outward productivity) would run more smoothly with more streamlined work. Maybe the process is easing me toward that; maybe not. I
f there’s one thing I know about writing endeavors it’s that (to borrow from screenwriter William Goldman) nobody know anything.
There are no real rules. Just write and read and write some more.
What do you do? Do you and/or your favorite authors write across genres or plant a flag and stay put?