What Small Town Life Taught Me, or Go Ahead–Poke the Sleeping Tiger!

I moved from a big city in California to a small town in rural Northwest Oregon when I was still something of a pup.  Despite my happiness and relief at escaping, I wouldn’t trade those years for anything.  I had so many “firsts” there:  deciding to write with the goal of being published, celebrating being published,  and doing so many things that can really only be done in the country (including an ill-advised tubing trip down the river in March).

The practical things were what I appreciated first:  the delicious application of the verb “to glean”, canning, the wonderful feeling of coming inside cold and tired after a day of physical labor to bask in the heat of a big fat log of maple on the stove.

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It took longer, but the more subtle charms of the little country town became clear to me as well.  The fact that everyone knows who you are even if you’ve never seen them before, and how even the smallest comment can be tossed back at you from any corner without warning.

I know this may come as a shock, but for an introvert I’m a mouthy bitch.  I garnered a few nicknames during my stay in that small town, some of which were colorful and some of which were even true.  Sorry, to maintain what little earning potential I may have outside of writing I have to cultivate plausible deniability, so I can’t share any of them here.  There’s no telling what will stick in someone’s mind or for how long.  The point, though, was given to me by one of the coolest broads I’ve ever met, and may G RIP (or not, whichever she wants ;)).  G told me this (many times, because I’m also a bit thick in the head) and I’ve tried not to forget:  “If they’re talking about me, then they’re leaving someone else alone.”

She had nicknames too, some even less flattering than mine, but she truly did not care.  I haven’t quite reached that level of confidence, but I’m fine with being talked about.  (The trouble comes with NOT being talked about, but down that path lies madness—plenty of time for that later.)

The town, along with two others in the general vicinity, have been patched together to make Willston, the town in Comfort and Joy.  I’ve taken bits and pieces and re-arranged them as the whim struck me and the stories demanded (yes, I have maps!).  Willston doesn’t make much of an appearance in this short novella, but maybe it will have its time to shine eventually.  I’ve seen a few comments here and there that a prequel is in order, and since I have one drafted I may go back to it.  So I’m doing a very scientific study and asking everyone I know how they feel about prequels.  Because I’ve learned to trust word of mouth—as long as the mouth in question isn’t giving me a nickname.

How do you feel about prequels?  Love ‘em? Hate ‘em?  Could care less?

Dish me all the dirt you have on prequels!

photo credit: practicalowl via photopin cc

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10 thoughts on “What Small Town Life Taught Me, or Go Ahead–Poke the Sleeping Tiger!

  1. I like prequels IF they are a story in their own right. I’ve read a few that basically just set the scene for the story to come. They tended to dwell fondly on how lonely the two protagonists are [the implication being ‘without each other’] and nothing much happens.

    Ideally one should be able to read the prequel without having to read the other books in the series.

  2. I agree with Elin. Only write a prequel if it can stand on it’s own. For those familiar with the other stories it will add something , but they shouldn’t feel like they’re missing something by not reading it, otherwise confusion sets in. And honestly, I think if that prequel was truly meant to be it’s own story, then it would have come first. 🙂

    • Hey Anne, thanks for your comment. The prequel I’m talking about was written before Comfort and Joy, but at the time I didn’t think I’d submit it anywhere so it’s unpolished. Maybe I’ll break out the Lemon Pledge! 🙂

  3. I agree with Elin and Anne. Also, there is a danger that the reader of the stories will already have some preconceived ideas about characters, places and events which may have been referred to in the stories which are already out there. If your prequel then paints a different picture, you run the risk of disappointing them.

  4. I think prequels can be fun, if there’s enough material. When I’m writing a book I have a whole back story in mind, but only use parts of it that are relevant to the story. Filling in the blanks can be interesting, so if readers are asking for one I’d seriously consider it.

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