Ya know, maybe I don’t wanna fit in…

Fabulous Publisher Babe(tm) and I have this game we play called “The White Picket Fence.” Last week, she I and were talking to a new life insurance agent (I’ve been with the agency forever, but many of the people I’ve never met in the flesh before.)

Young man was extremely bright, very earnest, massively competent at the task of making dry, dull numbers mean something. (If you need life insurance, and you probably do, let me know and I’ll connect you. Wonderful people.)

However, he was hopelessly lost and confused as he tried to wrap his head about our lifestyle and estate arrangements. Because, let’s face it: She’s got the house in the city, in a lovely, walkable neighborhood with grocery stores, restaurants, and entertainment close by. I live in what we affectionately refer to as “banjo country.” To whit: most days, 2-3 bars of 3G coverage, no interwebs, and you can’t see most of my neighbors for the trees, even in winter. (Starbucks is still only 6 minutes away, outside the pocket.)

And we like it like that. There are weekends in the city, and weekends at the farm. There are nights I spend here with her, and nights I’m out there alone. We’re both adults. I’m far less of an introvert than she is, which is not the same thing as not an introvert. I’m just far more gregarious. I still need quiet time without vampires around.

So I’m trying to explain to this young man that we have just finished wills and post-nuptial documents about how the literary estates will work, because those have to remain separate. (Hers goes to six nieces and nephews, plus their families. Mine goes to the five step-daughters. But we needed life insurance, because you always need to be prepared.)

And we’re not going to consolidate into a single place. (Well, if I won the lottery, there is a plot of land not far from here where I would tear down the three houses on it and build a Roman-style place with an inward-facing arcade and a garden, but I’d probably still keep the farm, or sell it to some friends for $1 and build a tower keep on a headland overlooking the Sound. You would, too.)

And my friends aren’t artists, for the most part, so they don’t grok our lifestyle either. We don’t want the white picket fence thing. We’re too busy having adventures, like taking the train to Portland a few weeks ago to have lunch with some friends, and then coming right back two hours later.

I look at some of people and wonder at how miserable they are. I used to be like that, before I decided one day I didn’t want to be angry any more. Completely re-invented myself from scratch, to the point that even the before and after pictures surprise people. (Seriously, my employment badge is somebody else.)

And I continue to reinvent myself. Because I wanna be happy. Most of the people I know who are miserable either don’t know how to be happy, or can’t bring themselves to leap off that cliff. They’re afraid that the world might look at them like it looks at me.

And I feel sorry for those folks, because I have honestly not been this happy in something like 30 years. It’s a sad thing to say, but I was just too angry for too long, even when good things happened to me.

But I learned how to get over myself. And how to get out of my own way when it came to being happy. I never really gave a shit what other people thought about me (ask my Mom about when I was a kid. She’s got great stories. Some of them are even kinda true.)

But now, I aggressively don’t care. I’m having fun.

I also happen to be coloring outside the lines, but they aren’t my lines.

I live in a world where I can write something the way I like it, fix the things my first readers scratched their heads at (and there are usually lots of those), and then publish the damned thing. No editor. No editorial re-focusing this year. No wronged, damned length (I write in the 15-25k range naturally. No literary publication publishes those.) No wrong, damned topic. Nothing.

It’s liberating, not fitting in.

I don’t even submit things for TradPub publication (Caveat: Hive stories automatically get submitted to the New Yorker, because they have the BEST DAMNED REJECTION POLICY AROUND. I might also throw things at Playboy for rejection now, since they are trying to get back to being the kind of high-end literary magazine that once published Ray Bradbury.)

Past that? More Jessica. More Javier. More Hive. More Kai Di. More Henri. More Brak. More Kaleph. More Suren. More Doyle. More whatever.

Because I can.

Because I am free.

I am Spartacus.