When you grow up on a farm you’re not reared, you are raised… everybody has a chore (or chores), you learn to drive a tractor before you can reach all the controls, you definitely learn that the job isn’t finished until it is done (not when the clock says it’s time to quit), and if you do the job right the first time it won’t need to be redone later (usually with at least twice the effort). I’m sure these lessons I learned young will benefit me as a writer.
My chores include my fulltime job as a truck driver (at least until the writing brings in enough money to live on) as well as writing… and more writing (books, blogs and anything else that will give me experience) and reading about writing. This blog is one of those things that I started before I could reach all the controls… you’ll notice that I learned how to add a place where you can be given a notice whenever I send out a new blog post (on the right hand side of this page —->).
The picture at the top of this blog site came with it when I set it up. I never tried to find another one… I think its perfect, a lone man on a road wanting others to join him in his journey. It’s just that… I noticed that there aren’t any animals in the fields (I think those are hay bales off to the left), and with the gate being open it makes me want to title it ‘THE COWS ARE OUT!’ (I can tell from the laughter which ones of you grew up on a farm).
The next two lessons kind of blend in together in writing and get blurred in the process. I think everybody has their own process when it comes to writing a book. Some people, I’ve read, will stay up all night so they don’t lose the flow of the story until they get the first draft completed. I’ve found that I can let a story set for months at a time, while I’m working on other projects (and driving my life away… I’m a third generation trucker, what can I say), and come back into the story rather seamlessly. Rewriting is an inevitable part of the process (adding scenes, moving sentences, fixing grammar and conversations, removing scenes, etc.). It must be like painting a landscape… at what point do you add one more bush, and when do you finally say that you’re finished?
I firmly believe that God can use anybody greatly who goes through their teenage years with callouses on their hands (and I’m not talking about on the tips of your fingers from texting or playing video games). Our old Michigan farm-house had few modern conveniences that people take for granted. My Mom’s folks helped us install the toilet and other bathroom amenities after we moved in (I was about four years old at the time, so I don’t have many memories of the outhouse, but a few).
We heated with wood (I warned you it was an old house)… and Dad rarely cut wood ahead of time. Every weekend (with extra hands around to get the job done quicker) we were out in the back 40 cutting trees… first down… then up. Dad always said that the wood heated you twice… once when you cut it, then when you burn it. I’ll never forget the winter when the snow was waist deep, Dad would tell me which tree was next. Then he would tell me which direction he planned on felling that one (that’s the cutting down part). Then, as he was cutting the previous tree ‘up’ into firewood I had to shovel the snow away from where the next tree was going to land (we got pretty good at it).
My Dad always wanted to farm (it takes that kind of dedication to stick with the constant demands of such a career). I remember the story about the time my parents were walking the fence line together shortly after they moved to ‘the farm’. Mom shares that Dad told her that he didn’t want to become wealthy on the farm, he just wanted to make enough money to get by. With that as his goal he was very successful (now you see why I say that I’m a future bestselling author). There’s a part of me that wanted to take the farm over after Dad passed on, but God had different plans for me (my Heavenly Father trumps my earthly father every time).
There were benefits to the farm, too. I recall falling asleep while watching the Northern Lights, and the smell of the lilacs in full bloom right under my bedroom window in the spring. Being a dairy farm gave us access to fresh milk (yes, we did pasteurize it ourselves), and fresh meat (we couldn’t have afforded it in the store, but it didn’t cost that much to butcher a cow and fill the freezer with meat). The summer my Mom’s folks came and helped us pour the cement floor for the new barn gave us an appreciation as to how good we ate. My Grandma told my Mom that she didn’t need to always fix such elaborate meals just because they were there. My Mom informed her that we always ate steaks and roasts, as well as fresh produce from the garden (anybody who’s eaten fresh picked sweetcorn knows exactly why it’s called sweet).
One last lesson from the farm… watch where you step! You don’t want to track any of that smelly stuff into the house (that’s why I’m concentrating on Christian fiction as my writing material).
I’ll see you, later. Wade Webster