"People want to know about you, who you are."
That's what my oldest son said.
It's no secret that I want people to buy, read and like, my just released novel. After it got published, I hit the social media ground running with a website, a twitter feed, and this blog. It's too soon to tell what, if any, difference it's all making. I started down this public road because of my book, and like many reclusive writers I balked at all the self promotion.
I have to say though, I've enjoyed writing this blog. More than I thought I would. And, I hope people read it and enjoy it...more than I thought I would.
So, I thought I'd take my son's advice and talk about who I am, even though it feels weird. Who cares? But, in case anyone does...
I grew up on a highway - this highway. A sort of town, in the middle of nowhere. "Huh? Where is that?" people say when I tell them.
"You don't look like you come from a place like that," used to be the highest compliment anyone could pay me. But, now, I'm not so sure.
After all, it's on this highway that I learned:
how to slit a turkey's throat then stuff it for Thanksgiving.
how to cut the balls off a bull then fry 'em up in a pan.
how to load a gun.
how to shoot clay pigeons and glass bottles at the dump.
how to ride a motorcycle.
how to drive a tractor
how to mix a 7 & 7
what a brooder is.
how to get thrown off a horse, just right.
how to smoke.
how to put peanuts in my coke.
that eating Faye White's homemade maple bars are the closest I'll get to heaven.
What's a town without its people? There're not a lot of them there, but in all my over 50 years, I've never met people anything like those I grew up with and I don't believe I ever will. Eccentricity, to me is normal. Some say the characters in my novels are...well...odd. To me, spending time with them is just like spending a day on the highway.
The folks where I grew up believe:
drinking and driving is a skill set.
getting run over by tractor blades doesn't necessarily kill you.
a dog mauling among friends isn't that big a deal.
Pi aren't squared. Pi are round. Cornbread are squared.
"I thought somebody woulda shot you by now" is the same as "I'm so glad to see you."
pot can grow in barns.
you should be nice to your neighbors, you'll be related to them eventually.
the system is there to work it.
they should put your crippled horse down because you don't have the heart for it.
they should drive you to the grocery store or the doctor or anywhere you need to go if you don't know how to drive.
they should sell things they can't afford to be without so they can pool their money and give you $13,000 in a cigar box to help pay for your chemotherapy.
they should come to your house as many times as you need so they can change your dying husband's diaper because he's too heavy for you to lift.
they should give you their last piece of bread because you're hungry.
eating Faye White's homemade maple bars are the closest they'll get to heaven.
Funny enough, I couldn't get outta there fast enough.
But, the truth is, I go back there in my mind, every day of my life.
It's the well I draw from, they're the people I carry with me, the place I count on to never change. I wouldn't be a writer if I hadn't come from there, or known those people.
Now, my life couldn't be further from this place. I'm a wife, mother, grandmother, retired professional fundraiser, writer, and author. I don't smoke. I live on the 28th floor of a luxurious high rise in the center of a bustling city, downtown. I love clothes, shoes and Le Creuset cookware. This is my life now, it's who I am.
But it's not all I am.
I'm still the girl who:
loves the smell of wet alfalfa, chicken frying in a cast iron skillet, all you can eat buffets and road trips.
won't pay full price. Ever.
loves costume jewelry better than real.
could get down on my knees in gratitude when I go to the grocery store and don't have to put anything back at the checkout counter because I don't have enough money.
never did learn to make maple bars.
And no matter where my life leads, or what I accomplish, inside I'm still that poor, uneducated, pregnant 17 year-old who came from the highway and dreamed of bigger things.