Why I Wrote ‘Divide’
Do you identify as an urban person or a rural person? Maybe, like me, you’re a bit of both – a hybrid. In many ways, being a hybrid is great – you get the best of both worlds. In other ways, it can be…complicated.
And that’s one of the reasons why I wrote the book. I was having an identity crisis.
Urban and rural life are different. Politically, culturally, socially – they are different worlds. And I’m not just talking about living in the countryside, or a city. I mean being of a place, belonging somewhere, deep in your bones.
I belonged to a small farming community on the Welsh Borders. I was bound so tightly to that place I took it for granted as a foundational, unchanging part of me. What I didn’t realise is that, when you leave, you change. I moved to a city for the first time when I was 25. I built a new life and without even noticing, I changed.
In becoming a hybrid – half town mouse, half country mouse – I found myself continually on the unpopular (losing) side of pretty much every discussion around farming, the environment, food, diets, culture, politics, whatever. Among friends and colleagues in the city, I’d defend my traditional, working class, conservative rural values. Among family and friends in the countryside, I’d turn the other way – defending my middle class, green, liberal urban values. It was all true, all me – but it was lonely. I was the contrarian in the bubble, belonging to neither tribe.
Over time, it got me down. Very down. And it’s one of the reasons I wrote ‘Divide – the relationship crisis between town and country’ – because I can’t be the only person who feels like this.
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Can’t wait to read your book Anna! I totally get this. Growing up in farming, being turned away from it (jobs for the boys) and living in Brighton on a boat or in Brisbane or in a Sussex commuter town – being on the London train line. And then ending back in farming but away in north Wales. And everyone frowns at me being in a bloody spin all the time with a slightly messed up and unsure head. Glad to be coming out the other side of being so confused for too long. Super big hugs to you! Sam xx
Sam – thank you! “A messed up and unsure head” is exactly how I have felt too! Writing the book really helped me make sense of things – I hope you find it helpful too 🙂 Big hugs right back at ya x
It’s definitely a controversial subject.. Spent my young life in rural, then like you left and made a life in the urban world. Though, I feel at peace when I am back home with the rolling hills and crisp fresh air. And then I flit back to city life and the convenience of everything, practically not having to actually lift a finger to get what I want on my door step, where back where my heart and soul lies, you have to look a little further, go a little wider, be experimental and adaptable. Now I have the best of both worlds where my girls are lucky to experience both. Village life, in the countryside, yet the concrete jungle isn’t too far away. I look forward to reading your book.
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Thank you Vicki and so interesting to hear other experiences of the urban/rural relationship.
I look forward to reading the book !
Will they give it a mention on Countryfile, or would that be “unfair promotion ” as seen by enemies of the BBC ? Maybe on Alan Titchmarsh …
looking forward to reading the whole book. Having contributed to two chapters, which both brought a tear to my eye when reading the drafts, for very different reasons, the recognition of differences within our society and how to deal with them or how not too is vitally important. Violence by those those who disagree with us is rare , ( in this country) but the mental scares can be just as debilitating.
Thank you for listening.