Sunday, June 10, 2012

Nothing is Easy

Sometimes all your hard work comes to nothing. And sometimes it doesn't.

I'm looking out at my neighbor's field this morning. They've spent the last several weeks ploughing and harrowing and planting the fifty or so acres of grass and brambles and ferns. For the second summer in a row they are trying to get a crop of pumpkins out of what was once cow pasture. She grew up on a farm in Vermont and had dreams of starting a farm of her own when they bought the property. Husband Numero Uno worked for the big national waste collection company. They built the McMansion above the old field by the road. The winter after they moved into the new house the old barn that had stood for a hundred years collapsed under a weight of snow. She cried as she walked down the road, getting over the shock of losing her dream. Now she spends all her time driving the mower in the front yard. Overweight and sunburnt and glowering at her neighbor whom she feuded with when she first moved in. They've forgotten the reason for the original disagreement but they still glower at each other. You know people like that, too?

Well, the pumpkins are being overtaken by the weeds once again. We've had so much rain, and those sod roots run deep...

I'm watching my cat out the window crouched in the grass by the stone wall, his muscles quivering under the tension of trying to keep still while he observes and waits to pounce on the unsuspecting chipmunk. Nine times out of ten he fails. And when he wins he leaves the evidence of his hoary triumph by the front door. See? he seems to want to say. Don't you ever doubt me again.

I spent all day, and I mean from sunup to sundown yesterday under the crawl space of the cottage trying to fix burst water pipes. Note to self: don't ever leave water standing in a house over the winter when the tenants move out unannounced in the middle of February again.  I emerged about five-thirty from the underbelly covered in mud and bobcat shit, (yes a bobcat has been defecating there in a pile under where the water main rises to the kitchen tap), and boom the terminal to the washing machine in the bathroom spit out a gusher as the water came on. Okay, one more trip to the hardware store before closing. I knew I had it under control. I love that moment when life's spanners in the works begin to fade into irrelevance as a solution comes into light. My point is persistence pays off. It took me three years to build a house in the west of Ireland. Two winters in a row the roof blew off in storm force gales before I could close it in.

Sometimes my wife asks me if a household project will be hard or easy, and my standard answer is nothing is easy. Nothing is easy. Put it on my headstone. The USA beat Anguila 3-1 in World Cup qualifying last week. Clint Dempsey said pretty much the same thing after the game. Anguila or Spain, nothing comes easy.

What I'm doing at the moment is marketing a book. It's my third attempt at novel-writing and this time I'm trying to use some of the virtual marketing tools that have sprung up in the last few years in order to build a reading audience. It's all an experiment. Nobody has a formula for success and nobody knows if the whole enterprise of independent books will stand or fall like a house of cards. Yet we push forward, knowing that this is a pioneering, brave enterprise, rewarding in the values and knowledge it teaches in and of itself, irregardless of sales figures at the end of the six month period. But believe me when I say I will feel like the cat if I do well.

How about you? Do you have a dream that failed and then succeeded?

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