Friday, November 18, 2011

The Insidious Nature of Banana Peppers

The proof is in the colander.

While I spent ten days on Little Lagoon not gardening, my pocket vegetable garden in the foothills produced a dozen banana peppers, one bell pepper, two pecked-out tomatoes and another with a giant green worm hole.

My husband expressed exactly what I was thinking. “That’s it. I’ve had it with tomatoes. Next year, we’re just going to grow peppers. ”

Our frustration stems from high expectations. Genetically, we are both prime tomato-growing specimens. My husband had an uncle who was a commercial tomato grower. And back in the 70s, the government paid my grandfather to stop growing tomatoes through one of those farm price support programs. With all that tomato juice in our bloodlines, we should be naturals when it comes to tomato cultivation.

You see, of course, where this kind of thinking leads.

Straight to places you’ve already been. Safe. Familiar. Dull.

And nowhere near the competitive world of publishing.

If I were to approach writing with the same attitude as tomato growing, I’d begin by saying that I’m a Southerner. Everyone knows Southerners are born storytellers. Getting my tales published should be as easy for me as a clich√©.

And yet my name has not yet appeared on the spine of a book. I’ve come across all kinds of bad birds and worms in my quest for publication.

But there’s an allure to striving for a long-held dream.

I should swear off fiction and go back to churning out news releases and brochures and key talking points.

I know I’ll keep attempting to tell a marketable story.

We’ll probably plant tomatoes next year, too.


Louisa Cornell said...

Chris, this is a GREAT post! I can't tell you how many times I have thought about WHY I am doing this, why I spend every free moment trying to put words onto paper with no idea if some editor will ever snatch them up and actually pay me for them.

I'm a Southern woman. Before I started writing I quilted. I just made them for members of my family, but they were often complimented on my work and even had offers to sell the quilts I made for them.

It would be SO easy to put the writing aside and quilt instead. Or sit and read romance novels, which I never seem to have time to do very much anymore.

There are so many things I could do, other things, easier things, and yet I persist. I get mad, upset, depressed or just plain stuck. And then I drag myself back to this darned chair and do it all again.

Here's to the optimistic stubborn tomato planters in us all!

Chris Bailey said...

Thank you, Louisa. I'm so glad we have this group of stubborn writers to share our experiences with!

Heather said...

I always love your blog posts - they make me think (ouch), but give me a huge laugh while doing so. I'm already planning where to plant my 'maters.

Cari Hislop said...

I love the smell of tomato plants. My mother used to grow them every year (she has a sort of tomato fixation and mentions them every time I talk to her). I tried to grow some this year on the patio. They're still there...growing...I think I ate one tiny tomato and then kept forgetting to go pick them even though I see them from my kitchen.

I sometimes treat my stories like my tomato plants. I don't think my characters find that very amusing!

Carla Swafford said...

Stubbornness is a good trait to have for a farmer and writer. LOL! Love your post.