Friday, June 24, 2011

Breaking things

So, still caught up in the process of moving... well, unpacking I guess.

And I literally have not touched my writing/editing since this. Partially, it's 'cause moving is, well, a difficult and all-consuming thing... so many people to call, changing hydro, phone, gas, etc, organizing the movers and, in this particular case (since it's a 1953 house we're moving into) dealing with a heck of a lot of trades to make the thing livable and safe.

I may have already mentioned that I refer to this *new* house as, "the witch's hut". The first time I saw it was in mid-winter on a dark and dreary day. It backs a nature reserve on two sides, so it's surrounded by enormous trees and ivy had taken over the one-acre yard, encroached onto the moss-covered patio and half-devoured a built-in barbecue/cooking area. Now, in the light of summer, the backyard has turned into a field of four-foot tall grass, a buck (young male deer) almost charged me last week and the dilapidated pool is housing a pair of wild ducks who have four newly-hatched ducklings.

...and that's saying nothing about the house itself...

Seriously, there's a lot wrong with it, both the house and the property... so this move has been doubly complicated because I have been waiting for tradesmen to finish their work so other tradesmen can come in so that I can move stuff in...


In our first five years of marriage, my husband and I moved seven times. This is move #8, but it seems much harder this time around.

So, why is this post called 'Breaking things'?

I wasn't referring to going smashy-smashy with a sledgehammer, or an unfortunate accident with the movers. Nor about the rotting roof caving in on us in the night (still gotta get that fixed). Actually, I was thinking about the yard.

I grew up on an acre property. Across the street was a farm with about 15 acres of natural trees/forest. Across the street on the other side was another farm that raised meat cattle. The next street over was a mink ranch (I know, weird, right?).

My parents, when they bought their property, were one of the first *houses* on the street. Their yard originally looked very similar to what I'm moving into. Something that's wild. Now it's almost completely manicured except for a strip of natural trees/plants/etc for privacy on two sides. Other than the farm directly across the street, all the other farms have been turned into subdivisions. A private school (Kindergarden to Grade 12) has been built where the mink ranch used to be.

The natural wildness of the yard is what originally hooked me on the witch's hut... even with the overly aggressive deer. I grew up playing hide-and-seek in untouched forest, camping out with sleeping-bags inside ancient, rotten tree trunks that were about ten feet in diameter. I've milked cows, watched calves being born, bottle-fed them, petted them, then a few weeks later, seen them hanging off the barn wall, blood draining and eaten their meat for dinner. There's not a lot of things that make me squeamish.

The witch's hut needs a lot of *breaking* to make it livable. That field of four-foot tall grass has to go, the water in the disgusting pool needs to be pumped out, everything cleaned, and a new filter and pump installed... but only AFTER the duck family has moved on. Some of the enormous trees need to be cut down or thinned because of safety. The ivy needs to be tamed, a fence needs to be put up to keep the aggressive deer out, and keep my little beagle in and safe from predators.

The trick is to break things without destroying what you loved about it in the first place.

I love the wildness of the property, and I want to preserve it as best I can, but compromises have to be made. If my dog isn't safe, if the pool turns into a mosquito-infested West-Nile-virus breeding ground, if the trees fall on the house in the middle of a wind-storm... all of those things have to be planned for and prevented.

It's the same with *breaking* things in a story during the editing process. We have to compromise and try to keep the aspects of what we love while also planning for and preventing the disasters.

I know somewhere in that field of grass are original old stone walls that are currently hidden. The overgrown, weed-filled gardens are harbouring flowers. There are beautiful ferns growing amongst the ivy, and there are treasures in every first-draft that are just waiting to be rediscovered, rescued and allowed to thrive once again.

My fingers are itching to get outside, but also to get back to editing.

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