Thursday, July 8, 2010

Ahh, the country life

I've horribly neglected my blog. You see, I've been moving our little family of four to new digs, then promptly vacationing for two weeks only to return to a toppling pyramid of unpacked boxes around every corner. But, at last, here I am in my new office space. Already, this house feels like home. It's a beautiful brick colonial from the 20s with all the built-in nooks and crannies that I love. But it's the neighborhood that's really won us over, a bit Mayberry-esque, this tree-lined, brick street filled with kids and dogs and neighbors bringing us plates of snickerdoodles (yes!).

And so, it rankles me a bit when someone (always an older person, not from our new neighbhorhood) asks where we moved from and expresses their disbelief at why we would make that choice. "You left a place in the country? With eight acres? To move to town?" Then, they stare at me as though I'm up to something. I've come up with the simplest of answers to give them: "This place fits our lives better." 

What's behind these statements by strangers is the assumption, held by many who've never set foot in the country, and some who have, that: "If it's country, it must be good." I was raised a farmgirl. I know the pleasures of roaming my own 100 acres. I also know the hardships of living on a farm. And I know that our previous country place took up way too much of our time away from our kids. Lawn that took hours to mow each week. A gargantuan garden filled with tomatoes rotting before we could can them, a large woods that was mostly for looks since the kids couldn't go back there lest they touch all the poison ivy and thorny bushes on all sides.

The old place came complete with the roar of motorcyclists taking the straight-away in front of our house at 100 mph, with the nose-stinging, weekly cleaning of the huge chicken farm on the corner, with our neighbors burning their trash, including plastic (mmm, that sweet aroma) instead of paying a few bucks to have the garbage man pick it up, or God-forbid, recycling it, and last but not least, no perfect evening outdoors would be complete without the constant sound of gunfire, from all the neighbors who consider it a perfect evening only if they get out their targets. But, no one wants to hear me talk about these things. They want to carry their myths of the idyllic country life.

The writing life is full of myths, too. Mainly, that you scratch out a draft of a book and bing, bam, it's on the shelves, you're rich and famous and near-about finished with the second book you started last week. For my close friends, who really want to know how publishing works, I'm happy to fill them in on reality, while I'm learning it myself. But most people don't want to know. They don't want to look behind the curtain at all the messy rewrites and agent searches and publisher negotiations and more rewrites. And you know what, that's okay. If, in the end, when my book is on the shelves, they think it's a good read, then that's all I care about. Leave the dirty details to the writers, agents, editors. I'll sit here and work, in my incredibly quiet place in TOWN, and keep the secrets to myself.

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