Because I was a writer who'd lived through this uniquely American experience, I felt an obligation to write The Orchard. My goal in writing the book was to document and capture a farming era in an anthropological yet personal way. At the same time, I didn't want the book to be about me, or about one family. I wanted it to feel like every farm, and every family. I wanted it to be a parable. Which is why I used my name but once in the book. I didn’t want to intrude upon a story that I didn’t feel was my story, but was rather everybody’s story. Maybe America's story.
The Orchard is a book about one farm, but it’s also a book about every farm. It’s a story about our children and our children’s children. It’s a story about a young girl who falls in love, marries an apple farmer, and never sees the world in the same way again. And it’s a story about one of the deepest and most profound loves of all: the love of a parent for a child.
My hope is that people will still be reading The Orchard in fifty years, or even a hundred years. That it will become a doorway to the past. That people a hundred years from now will pick up the book, or more likely download the book, and say, "This is what life was like on a farm in the 1980s. And this explains why the world is the way it is today."
But right now I can't talk about it anymore. I wrote it. I didn't want to write it, but I forced myself to do it because I thought it was important. And I'm grateful to all of the independent booksellers who embraced and hand-sold the book. I'm grateful to the people at Grand Central Publishing who embraced the book, who felt it was important. I'm grateful to my agent, who felt the same way. I'm grateful to the reviewers and the book bloggers and and the people I will never know who passed the book to a friend or relative. But now that the release of the paperback has come and gone, I have to move on.
Every time I talk about the story…it's like opening a wound that's just begun to heal. It's not too bad when the events are one on top of the other, but once there is a gap of a few weeks… that's when it's tough. That's when I have to go back there all over again after starting to feel like myself again.
I really thought I would get used to talking about The Orchard. But it doesn't get any easier. I think the reopening of the wound over and over and over…that's not healthy.
So for now, I'm retiring. I've committed to some events in April of next year, but at this time I'm not accepting any new speaking invitations. I feel bad about that, because it's such an honor to be invited to speak, but I'm retiring from public speaking, at least public speaking about The Orchard. Of course, like so many people who retire… Well, we know how that goes.