My parents were born there. To their little Yankee kids, it was fantasy land. We grew up in New Jersey in a blighted urban landscape, a town whose creek had become a “cric,” filled with garbage and topped with the sheen of petroleum. Our favorite place to play was an old trash incinerator that had been shut down when it was revealed to be raining particulates upon the town. But Newfoundland sparkled and smelled good. The rocky hills, the thick grass and the deep blue sea were more vivid because the air was clean.
My aunts and uncles lived in a town where everybody let their horses run free in the summer. The horses would hang out in the church parking lot or in front of the only store. My relatives had an outhouse and a barn and an old tom cat, and a trail behind their house filled with yellow-streaked spiders. My uncles raised hares for meat. The male hare was gigantic. He must have weighed twenty pounds, with a thick dewlap. Needless to say, my little friends back in New Jersey did not believe me when I told them about the monster bunny.
The well had a fish in it. Every morning I went out to draw water, but it was more to see the fish. I felt bad for it. My uncle explained that the fish ate the bugs in the well. That for a fish, it was a good, safe life. I felt a little better after that, but I realize now, I should have liberated that fish. I think it would have much rather lived in the harbor, even if it wasn’t as safe.
These days, I've chosen a path that isn't safe, professionally speaking. When you're an independent author and freelance editor, it's easy to get discouraged. To be an entrepreneur is a difficult road. I’ve made many mistakes. I’m sure I’ll make many more. I’ve tried to hold my pages of lovingly produced prose up above the tsunami of books on the market. So many engaging and well-written books. Social media is not second nature to me like it is to the young. There are times I loathe it with a nuclear intensity.
I try to hang on to the great feeling I get when readers tell me they loved my book. I tell myself that bad reviews have value, even when they give me horrible stomach aches.
Sometimes I want to hang it up. Get a better day job. Focus on my external career and not spend so much time in my head.
Then I remember the fish.