Winter Crops


In the heat of August it is weird to be thinking about a winter crop.  And after finishing a novel, it’s normal to take time off to rest the old gray cells.  At least that is what I’ve always heard.

“Step away from the book for a few months.  Get some perspective on it.”

Normally, ‘stepping away’ would mean taking two or three months off to take over the world a few times.  Just as I would take time off after the fall harvest to give the garden a rest.

But I can’t.

I can’t stop writing and I can’t stop growing stuff.  Not since I have gotten into the habit of writing and learned that gardening never really stops.  Plants like onions and garlic will grow all winter and other plants like cabbage, lettuce, peas, and broccoli are cold tolerant and can produce up until the ground freezes.  There’s this purple broccoli that has to over-winter before it blooms in the spring.  Check out  a full line of wintering crops.

Even while I was finishing up the final chapter of my last novel, my mind was already on the next one (to be clear, a revision of an older novel).  I couldn’t wait to get started again and took a week to do some outlining.  A few days later and I finished the first chapter.

Right now I’m in the honeymoon phase of the new novel, just as I’m bringing in a basketful of fruits and veggies every day.  But sooner than I think and I’ll have to start pulling dead plants, spraying the fruit trees, turning the compost, laying down straw, putting up row covers.  Just as I will have to pace the novel, keep the momentum moving forward, listen to my alpha readers, and kill my darlings.

I am going to get tired and frustrated.  I will find plot holes and blossom end rot, invading voles and passive verb spots.  Soon, this new love affair with the book will turn into a log trudge across a vast wasteland and my garden will transform to a bitterly cold tundra.

Fortunately, I know what to expect and I’m braced for the hardships.  So if all goes well, this novel and my garden will yield some good winter crops.


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