I write about small towns.
This morning I went to our town’s annual town meeting. When it got to be time to vote on the elementary school budget, I froze. I wanted to vote the budget down, because I couldn’t figure out how we’d pay for the five percent increase in taxes. But I knew that the school board had worked very hard and on its own time to come up with a figure that made sense. So I abstained by way of exit. I didn’t want to say yes or no. I didn’t want my neighbors to know how I would vote. And I was too shy to ask for a ballot vote, because you know what that means, extra time when people are already ready to go home.
It is hard to be invisible in a small town, especially if you are a third generation resident. I’ve only lived in one big city, in a suburb of Boston, and that was for a brief amount of time. I don’t know how to live anywhere else. So that’s what I write about. Peace Cottage and Vinehart Farm both have small town settings. I like that I can draw a large circle around my characters and develop them inside an established framework. I control the tap when it comes to spontaneity or surprise. Cities are too large to control, at least for me. Sometimes my characters surprise me and step out of the circle. I don’t stop them; eventually they come back. I guess that’s what I did. I stepped outside the circle for over twenty years. And then I came back,surprising everybody, and surprising myself.