Farmhouse Fantasies

I think, on some level, I’ve always wanted to live in an old farmhouse. Specifics such as amount of land, presence of animals (or children), and must-have modern amenities have varied.The size and location of said farmhouse has shifted throughout the years, along with the intensity of the longing.

I now find myself in the midst of a deep yearning. The yearning is fueled by a number of things. There is my dog, Oliver, who likes to bark at pedestrians, cats, other dogs, and nothing at all. There are the neighbors who aren’t bad so much as really, really close; their arguments and the aroma of cannabis waft over with such regularity that I could set a clock by them. There are the squirrels in the kitchen sink.

This is not the squirrel from our kitchen sink.  Our squirrel did not stay for coffee.

This is not the squirrel from our kitchen sink. Our squirrel did not stay for coffee.

Now, I know what you’re thinking. If a girl can’t tolerate the occasional squirrel in the sink, she has no business living in the country. You’re right. As a renter, though, I am left to text my landlord who, although out of town for the week, promises to come patch that hole real soon. In my very own farmhouse, I would be a woman of action. I would gather supplies, hold the ladder, and tell my partner repeatedly to be careful up there because squirrels can bite, you know, if they’re cornered.

If we couldn’t patch the hole ourselves, I would call a guy, or sexy butch contractor with an extension ladder, if I could find one. (Side note: Would someone please invent the lesbian equivalent of Angie’s List?) Then I would write about it.

To make the farmhouse fantasy a reality, there is the small matter of needing to sell the house I bought before I moved to Ithaca and the lease we have here that runs through next May. Practicality notwithstanding, my partner and I have started looking. Although we are officially in the “exploratory” stage, I find my way to Zillow at least once per day. I’m also amassing a lovely assortment of apron sink photos on Pinterest.

I may also indulge in daydreams of what it would be like to write full time. I could gather eggs and weed the garden and work on drafts and go days without having to interact with strangers. Sigh. A girl can dream.  In the meantime, I’d better get back to work.

The Perils of Editing

I often get into debates with non-writer types about the problem with writing.  “It’s never done,” they assert.  “You could revise until the cows come home.”  (Note: The individuals in question are invariably business students, who would prefer to take a test than write a paper.  Also, they never actually use the phrase “until the cows come home.”)  But I digress.

Writing, or at least writing well, brings with it the inherent need to revise, edit, and proofread.  I embrace this as part of the process.  First and foremost, it takes the pressure off when writing a first draft.  It’s easier to slap something on the page if you convince yourself it’s okay if it’s crap the first go round.  It also allows for the things you write later to inform the things written earlier.  There is more cohesion, better flow, fewer typos.  The list could go on and on.

The trick is knowing when to stop.  Third draft? Fourth? Tenth?  When you’re happy with the story?  When you get to the point of making a correction only every five pages? When you read it and change absolutely nothing? 

It’s the last one that’s tricky.  I don’t know if I ever get to that point.  Ever.  I’m confronted with the non-writerly gripe: it might not ever be done.

Bah.  Bah, I say.  Writing is not about perfection.  Writing is about something between draft three and draft one hundred and sixty.  It’s about trusting the story, trusting your voice, and trusting your second reader (because, really, you must have one of those).  If you’re looking to be published, writing is about holding your breath and hitting the submit button and loving yourself for it.

I’m almost there.  Next week, I think.  Until then, my pink pen and inner grammar snob await.

Why I Write Romance

Sometimes, I read a book and it profoundly moves me.  This is a beautiful thing, but it comes with some risks.  I’m one of those people who takes things to heart, carries them around and turns them over and over in my mind.  A deeply wrenching tale, or even an intensely suspenseful one, can keep me awake at night, cloud my thoughts for days.  It’s not bad, but it’s exhausting.

Romance is different.  It is, by definition, a hopeful genre.  The stories and characters are ones you either know or want to know.  The ending is predictable, but that’s okay; it is buoyant.  Always.

Despite reading romance–straight and queer–for years, I usually did so secretly, guiltily, or, at the very least, with a dose of self deprecation.  As a woman with a fondness for intellectualism and a graduate degree in English, it felt hypocritical to do otherwise.  Yet.  Yet, the romances were the stories I kept in my heart, the ones I read again and again.

When I decided (for about the tenth time) to take writing seriously, I dabbled in a number of things.  What I wrote wasn’t bad, but it didn’t excite me.  I struggled to finish a project and everything felt a little…flat.  I decided, finally, to write what I would want to read.

In doing so, I embarked on a tale that got me out of bed at six in the morning so I could write for an hour before going to work.  I created characters that I loved, even when they drove me nuts.  I wrote a story that made me smile, made me happy.

I also came to embrace romance, to take pride in it.  In some ways, it was like coming out all over again.  I’m thrilled with the result.  Even in what feels like the billionth round of edits, I’m not sick of it.  I look forward to sharing it with with you soon.  Until then, read something you love, and don’t hesitate to share it with a friend.