What used to be my Darwin’s View 2012-2014 blog is now a 211- page book. It took a lot longer than I thought it would. Deletions and additions, pages of them, came and went. So did quotes and footnotes, and my tirades against America’s Demo-n-capitalism and the inertia of Home s. sapiens in regard to climate change, CAFOs and the poisoning of our soils with leftover poisons from war. Each draft—all fifteen of them—has been a peeling off, development and deepening of the themes of chickens, my mother & Mother Nature, and home. These changes were exemplified by my title tweaking. What began as Darwin’s View One Breath After Midnight morphed into Darwin’s View: A Journey to the Heart’s Core with the Double Assist of Chickens to Off-grid with the Double Assist of Chickens . . . Off-grid with Chickens: Growing Chaos, Healing Soil, Sowing Hope . . .. In every draft, with every new title, themes braided, morphed, evolved, even as I did.
The final edit was the most eye-opening and, believe me, I would never have done it alone. In 2015, I took a memoir workshop with Ann Hood (The Italian Wife, Obituary Writer, The Knitting Circle, etc.). Months later, I asked her to read a draft, and then another. Finally, I sent her the three hundred page Draft Fourteen. Her suggestions consisted of cutting a chapter here, a chapter there, all told nearly one hundred pages.
The first seventy pages of cuts made absolute sense. But not the chapter on music! Not the one about my father in Hamburg! But as I read how the book flowed . . . I cut. And again. Those final cuts clarified the book as a cook does butter, removing the excess foam. What’s left? At Crossroads with Chickens: A “What if it works?” Adventure in Off-grid Living, and Quest for Home.
It’s not the book I thought it would be. It won’t save the world. But I hope it will add what I believe the world needs: more love, compassion and soul work.
And now? I am working on articles on energy. Ideas for a play, a children’s book, another novel, another non-fiction book percolate. And then Carl and I have a plan up our sleeves. We will know in a week or two if it’s a go.
And, of course, there’s Darwin’s View and the chickens. Spring threatens floods and slurry. The chickens race outdoors to muddy their feet and exercise their wings. The young farmer who helps us will be back soon to help with all things permaculture and plantings. And then there’s the question of goats, and the writing of query letters in hopes of finding a publisher.