Sorry, but today won’t be about writing tips. I guess it could be. A lot of the things I’m going through are similar to a novelist working on their first masterpiece, just on a slightly different level.
My body is riddled with tiny little scabs and scars from various bug bites, scrapes, and minor wounds. I’ve been sick for 3 days. Now, normally, when I catch a stomach bug, I show no concern for it at all, and carry right on with my day. But out here, things feel differently. I don’t have a thermostat I can play with to my heart’s content. There’s no microwave to make a quick chicken-noodle soup (though I could fire up my little gas stove pretty quick).
To make it short, the experience has left me wondering if I need to change my bootstrapping setup out here in the wild. When you try to stake out your own place on a piece of land, it makes you question a lot of things about yourself. It makes you wonder how settlers and western pioneers ever accomplished what they did. The movies rarely show the skin blemishes and crawly monsters that are everywhere. They don’t reveal the dangers of overheating, or what a pain in the butt it can be to have good drinking water. Some claim that stream and river water was safer back then, but you know what? It was still dangerous, specially if there was a dead animal carcass rotting in the steam 100 or 200 yards upstream.
Then there’s tooling. Sure, it would be great to make my own stuff out of just what’s on the property, but I’m not just doing some primitive living experiment. I’m trying to blend simple living with modern society. I’m a writer, so my laptop is pretty much my office, and if I want to go into town, I can hardly crawl out of a mud-hole to go meet someone at a restaurant. So I use a chainsaw for clearing, which is just insane as there are more efficient ways to clear cedar trees, but a true luddite would use an axe or a bow saw.
I use cut lumber from the mill or these jokers in town for building stuff. I’ve been curing my drinking water with bleach. I broke down and bought a propane stove for easier outside cooking in the summer.
There’s also the miserable feeling that when you’re sick, you have to put up with the temperature, whatever it is, and sweat out the infection. Luckily for me, last night I slept a little better, and I think the bug is on it’s way out. Then there’s what to do about clean clothing, clean this or that. Trash. I had a preliminary system in place for everything, but the time involved means that one person doing this on their own has to handle all of this, and in modern society, they also have to try and make some money (to pay taxes and phone bills). Today is one of those days when I find myself wondering if I’ll actually finish. I really don’t want to give up on the property, because I love it up here, but I might shortly be adding a few niceties to make things easier on myself.
In truth, it takes me back to when I was working on that first novel. Telling myself “this time I’m going to finish one” and not believing it half the time. Trudging on day after day, even when the story seemed to stagnate. Learning the persistence that’s needed to write a novel, the pain of the editing process, and then the patience in waiting for rejection letters.
I’m actually working on the final polish of Stone’s Shadow before I start pitching it to agents, starting that whole process over again. And I can’t quit on that, so maybe I’m stubborn enough to keep up with the homesteading thing. This week I’m dealing with DMV stuff. Not doing a lot of work on the property itself. I need to get my Missouri Driver’s License and pin this place down as home. Hopefully the stomach bug will pass along, and next week I can be back to digging in the dirt and writing in some relative comfort. What I should probably be doing is resting, but I’ve never been the type that can just lay up for very long. This ship keeps moving, even with a broken mast.
So I’ll sit here for a while, nurse this coffee that isn’t helping my sickness one bit, edit a couple of chapters, and get ready for a trip to the DMV in the morning. Then I’ll go back to the cabin and chill out for the afternoon, as long as it’s chill. The steady, soft rain has made the temperature fairly tolerable for the last few days, so I’ve been blessed by that. And I’ll keep dreaming. Someday, pastures and animals and a little market garden.
There is definitely a bonus to being among the people in this area. There are some that understand what I’m dealing with to one degree or another. The guy that did my vehicle inspection told me that it took him about 3 years to build his 40 acres into a little homestead, and not he has some cows. He at least reassured me. A little at a time, keep pushing toward that goal, and eventually you will get there.