When I was in my 20s, I dreamed of raising llamas. I envisioned myself on a quiet ranch in Montana or Wyoming. I would walk into lush green fields surrounded by long-necked pack animals sporting a myriad of colors. Brown, red, black, white in solids as well as every imaginable pattern of splotchy magnificence. When I reflect on this now, I shake my head. What was I thinking?
This fantasy was so far outside reality that is laughable. For instance, in my imagined world, my llamas would never spit, they would succumb to clippers without a fuss, and they would never get sick or die. Of course, the weather was sunny every day and I would rise sometime around 10 a.m. There would never be a day where I would slog through snow or mud; no animal waste to step over or in.
This has everything and nothing to do with writing. On the one hand, I am no longer that twenty-something dreamer. The breadth of my life experiences has, without a doubt, made me a better writer. On the other hand, wide-eyed innocence and a romanticizing spirit could still provide the stuff of great fiction, if I still possessed it. Yet, would I exchange my seasoned perspective for a llama-ranch fantasy life? Not in a million years.