Writers: Can You Write Two Books at The Same Time?
I’ll be taking an extended leave of absence from work so I can focus on some of my own projects, especially homesteading and writing. I’ll be updating this blog more with all of the projects we’ve been doing that we haven’t had time to post about. For instance, the composting toilet upstairs and the composting toilet outhouse we built attached to the barn (Thanks Jonathan!); the chicken coop, dog house, rabbit hutch; and food posts like our new asparagus patch, how to keep chestnut seeds viable, how to ferment off paw paw flesh from those seeds, making candy out of anise seeds, drying crook-neck squash gourds for birdhouses, etc… One of the problems having a job working on a computer presents is that the very last thing I feel like doing after being online all day is writing a blog post about something that I want to do outside. I’d rather just go do it. And so we’ve done A LOT of stuff and yet haven’t made the time to share it with everyone. That problem should be suspended within the next couple of weeks.
In the meantime, I am having a tough time choosing between two ideas I have and would love some input. Is it nearly impossible, or inadvisable, to try to write two books at the same time?
Book idea #1 – Biography with Possible Exploration of Spirituality
A biography of my Navy Vet, Pentecostal Preacher Grandfather that may or may not explore my own personal mystic faith through the fire-and-brimstone lens of my family’s faith. I like this idea for several reasons. First and foremost, it is a great excuse to spend some quality time with my grandfather, who was the closest thing I had to a “real” father when growing up. Without him my whole family would have been lost. He won’t be around for much longer and I have a lot of questions for him. I think it would bring him joy to spend some quality time with his namesake (His name is Everett) and to have an opportunity to share all that he has learned in over eight decades of living a full life. Lastly, even if the book never gets published my family will have something of my grandfather to keep for their entire lives, and to pass on to their children’s children. I have one chapter barely started.
Book Idea #2 – Profiles on Modern Homesteaders Use of Internet
We know a lot of people who are using the Internet in various ways to finance a “back to the land” lifestyle. Technology allows them to practice voluntary simplicity in an age when taxes, healthcare, interest, stagnant wages, economic inequality, the monopolization of farmland, loss of farmland and the generally high cost of living precludes them from just living off the land and the sweat of their backs. The Internet is more democratic than our nation’s agricultural system, and certainly more-so than other sectors of the economy where banks and land developers call all of the shots.
Retail stores close down in rural towns for many reasons. A bad economy, lack of jobs, Walmart moving to town, huge percentages of the population moving to the cities… The internet allows someone who makes something here in the United States to reach a local, state, national and even a global market for the cost of hosting a website (Less than $100 a year) if they are tech-savvy or can teach themselves the skills necessary to set things up. A storefront in town, which has a far smaller and more economically depressed market, would cost them hundreds or thousands every month.
When we shop at Walmart, Target, Home Depot, Lowes… When we eat at McDonald’s, Hardees, KFC, Starbucks…. Most of our money is leaving the community. The staff barely get paid minimum wage, and most of them don’t have healthcare because they can’t get hired full-time. The jobs created are much fewer, and lower paying, than the jobs lost from family businesses. Members of rural communities work very hard, often at low-paying manufacturing jobs, or in agriculture only to have the product of their work (i.e. revenue) siphoned off to the big cities, sometimes even overseas. In other words, the work gets done here and the money goes there. The energy is expended here, and the financial gain is seen there. The environment is destroyed here (especially in rural areas unlucky enough to have an abundance of natural resources, including coal, oil, timber, topsoil…) and the ones who benefit the most from it economically live somewhere else.
Small Internet businesses don’t work that way. The Internet is still the Wild West in many ways, primarily in that corporations (though they have tried, especially in the last two years) have been largely unable to get their puppets in Washington to pass laws (again, not for lack of trying) that keep small businesses from cutting into their corporate profits. With small internet businesses operated from rural communities the money comes OUT of the cities and IN to the communities. Amazing!
Think about that… for hundreds of years, at least since the industrial revolution, it has been the opposite. Outside interests bought up the forests and cut out the timber, leaving steep mountainsides barren, and topsoil unprotected. They took out the coal and polluted the rivers. They mined various substances, and now they are even “fracking” because apparently our rivers weren’t enough; they had to pollute our underground water too. If it turns out that our water is clean enough to drink after all of this, you can bet they’re going to be extracting that and sending it to the cities too. All the while the money made from these resources, from our environment, from the hard-working community – has been flowing out to cities right along with our national treasures. The Internet could allow us to keep more non-renewable resources in the rural communities because the community members will not be forced to destroy their own land in order to survive. If we must sell our natural resources we should have options. Options allow us to refuse minimum wage, poor environmental practices, worker abuse, usurpation of landowner rights … and to get the REAL price for our treasures. We all subsidize corporate welfare, but rural communities pay the most. Let the river reverse direction. Let the money flow back into rural communities and be spent there. Let it circulate and bring new life to people who never stopped trying, who never gave up, who never sacrificed their culture and heritage….
We live here because I work online. We are fortunate. Our good fortune is the good fortune of others too. We’ve hired contractors, plumbers, electricians, handymen… We’ve shopped at stores, eaten at restaurants, paid taxes, rented an office… The income for these activities came from outside the community. In our case it came from Denver. We have friends who sell chicken waterers and write online to make a decent living from the middle of nowhere. I know others who, like me, telecommute or have various eCommerce businesses. The money they live off of does not go straight back to the cities. It sticks around and circulates for awhile.
In the long run we need more local businesses that are providing products and services to the local community instead of shipping stuff all over the world. But for now I see the internet playing an important role both in the revival of rural communities, but also – and possibly even more importantly – unchaining thousands of brilliant people from their cubicles, desks and assembly line positions so they can live the lives they love. Even in terms of pure economics, I think that is the best thing that can happen. When we do what we love we produce more. And what we produce is typically much better in every way.
I want to write a book about the people out there who have found a way to make their “simple life” happen by leveraging the internet as an appropriate technology to operate a small-scale, profitable business from a rural community. The book will hopefully provide inspiration to others looking to jump off the work-consume-work hampster wheel. There will be dozens of profiles / case studies showing how people have found all sorts of different ways to make it work, from CSAs to Telecommuting, and from online microbusiness retail websites to art, inventions, blogging and much more!
In case you can’t tell, I’ve been thinking about this one for a long time. I’ve done a bit of work on the outline, and have the first draft of the first chapter finished.
My grandfather’s age and declining health obviously make that idea much more time sensitive. If I have to choose I’ll probably do that one first, but can they both be worked on at the same time? Maybe I could do all of the research and record all of the conversations, but not write, the biography while visiting these homesteads I want to spend time with for the other book?