Saturday, March 7, 2009

Five Questions

A few months ago I didn't even know what a meme was and now here I am participating in one.

Eleanor, whose enchanting Thatchwick Cottage blog I follow for the delightful look at life in South Africa ('just my resident ibis', one picture is labeled), invited her readers to answer five questions on their own blogs -- and then to invite their readers to do the same. So here goes.

Eleanor's first question: How did you launch a successful writing career at this stage in your life?

Well, first of all, if one defines success in terms of monetary rewards, I must say that the success has been only modest. But I feel successful in that I'm on my third two-book contract with a major publisher and have gotten some nice critical notice.

As to how . . . in 2000, on a whim, I took a class called 'Writing Fiction That Sells' (6 meetings) at a branch of a local community college and was challenged to begin a novel. When at the end of the class, the instructor told me that I didn't 'have the passion it takes to write a novel,' I decided to prove him wrong.

One thing led to another, as so often happens, and in 2003, when I was sixty, I signed a contract with Bantam Dell. (I guess I found that passion somewhere.)

A nice thing about starting at this stage in my life is that my children are grown, my life is reasonably serene, and I have a lot of experiences to draw on. The down side is that white-haired woman with the double chin who shows up in my publicity photos.

Question two: What is the history behind your lovely farm and what brought you and your family there?

Our western North Carolina farm was owned by Clifford and Louise Freeman who bought it from Louise's parents. It probably doesn't date back, as a farm, much more that 150 years -- this steep area was settled only after all the nice bottom land was taken.

My husband and I were infected by the back-to-the-land urge in the early seventies and, despite our middle-class suburban upbringing in Florida, on a whim, we threw caution to the winds and decided to become farmers in North Carolina. We were young and foolish and I've never regretted it. (This 'on a whim' thing seems to be something of a leitmotif for my life . . .)

Question three: What brings you the greatest self-fulfillment in your life?

Ahh . . . see one and two is the short answer.

The longer answer is that while becoming a published author was incredibly gratifying to an old English major like myself, the farm, though still a work in progress, is the fulfillment of a lifelong dream.

Having our sons and their significant others living here, having family and friends who regard the farm as a place of comfort and refuge, knowing that over the past thirty-some years we've added to the beauty and utility of the land -- all of that feels like fulfillment to me.

Question four: Won't you describe your happiest childhood memory?

I can't pick one . . . my brother and I on either side of my grandfather as he read to us from The Hollow Tree and Deep Woods Book . . . being in my hideout under a bush on the first day of summer vacation with a stack of new books to read . . . the cooing of doves and smell of fresh-cut grass on a summer morning and nothing whatsoever to do . . .

Question five: If you were given an airticket to anywhere in the world, where would you go and why?

I'd be tempted to visit South Africa which, judging from Eleanor's pictures is full of the most fascinating things. Or I might go back to England (above in the Cotswolds) for a fourth visit -- I do love that place. Or I might be adventurous and go to New Zealand -- a country that captured my imagination first when I read Elizabeth Goudge's Green Dolphin Street and secondly when I learned that The Lord of the Rings was filmed there.

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So those are my answers to Eleanor's questions. If any of you would like to play, leave a comment asking to be interviewed and I'll send you some questions of my own -- which you can then post on your own blog or in the comments or wherever pleases you. And you, in turn, can offer to interview others.

Kind of fun, I think.


TheWritersPorch said...

Vicki....that was very interesting!
Now aren't you glad I started blogging? You found Eleanor and Willow and you should follow Reader Wil in the Netherlands too,
she is very educational about all the places she visits.

Susan M. Bell said...

Send along some questions, Vicki. I'm game. I don't consider myself that interesting of a person, but what the heck. :-)

Vicki Lane said...

Carol -- I found Eleanor through you but Willow on my own :-). Great blogs!

Susan -- your questions are in my comment on your last blog post!

Kathryn Stripling Byer said...

Hi Vicki, I've been laggard in keeping up with friends' blogs and have hardly had time to keep my two going, but I must say, again, how much I've enjoyed coming back again to your world. I don't know if I have time to do this interview "meme," but maybe. It would really be a neat thing for the laureate blog, if not the other one. Maybe I'll give it a try. Right now I have a house full of dust and doghair and paper and catalogs and.....maybe I'll make a list poem out of all that. They say you can right about anything, don't they?

Kathryn Stripling Byer said...

Make that "write" not right---right? Freudian slip? Or just old age? To write makes us feel right. (hey, I like that...) Most of the time I just feel frazzled.

Vicki Lane said...

Hi, Kay, I was hoping you'd ask. Take your time -- I'll be checking your blogs!

1. When did you know you were a poet?

2. Who was your first favorite poet and why?

3. Is there a poet or type of poetry that you were once enthusiastic about but no longer admire?

4. What is the most poetic thing you do or see every day?

5. What makes a poem a poem?

Reader Wil said...

Thank you so much for sharing your interesting interview! You are another writer in our blogging company! Thanks for your visit and your comment on IWD. True there's still a lot to be done!

Vicki Lane said...

Welcome Reader Wil!'

And thanks to Carol for steering me to another wonderful blog!