Saturday Spotlight – Meagan Macvie – A Story About Goats, Writing, and Success

It’s my pleasure today to introduce a writer that captured my attention by doing something I dream of, learning to fly a helicopter. When I found out she had goats, and has a book coming out, I knew this was someone I wanted to converse with. This is her story, told by the author herself.

Thanks, Martin, for giving me this opportunity to share my story.

My small corner of the world

I live with my family in a little green house in the Pacific Northwest where it is wet and soggy most of the year. There are lots of drippy fairytale forests and gray beaches crawling with crabs, and from almost anywhere around here you can see Mt. Rainier’s snowcapped peak in the distance.

My little green house sits on 6+ acres of an old farm in rural Washington, not far from the state capitol in Olympia, where I used to work as a state employee. I wore business suits and worked in a pillared building with marble floors. In the summers, I ate my lunch on a bench outside. The campus overlooks Capitol Lake, and is not only the site of historic government buildings and major state policy decisions, but also is a park with sprawling lawns, gnarled old trees, and a super gorgeous fountain.

My husband, our daughter, and the dog, Itsy, live with me in our little green house. Four chicks also are currently lodging in a crate in our dining room, but that’s temporary, and a big fluffy gray cat named Lizzie used to hold down the chair in my office, but we lost her this winter. I’m still sad about that because she was a great kitty and was part of our family for almost twenty years.

Our barn is green with red and white trim and it even has a decorative cupola on top of the roof. It looks so traditional and I love it! It’s home to two rascally Dwarf Nigerian goats and seven chickens. The hens are of various types, but mostly Ameraucanas (green egg layers). We will have a total of eleven hens when the four new chicks (two Australorps and two Brown Leghorns) move out.

The two goats are siblings. Lucky (the boy) and Beth (the girl) are friendly and curious (possibly to a fault). Almost every day I take them for walks in the field and woods behind our house. The deep woods get swampy in the spring, so I can’t take them too far.

The other day they were out munching blackberry brambles, dandelions, and new grass. That day was unusually warm and sunny, and since they’re very photogenic animals, I snapped a zillion pictures until I grew bored and sat down in one of the old plastic lawn chairs we keep in the field to post a shot of Lucky munching a bright yellow dandelion clump.

I relaxed in the chair feeling very smug about my goats. “I don’t need toxic weed killers,” I thought, beautifying a picture of Lucky with a filter on my phone. “Goats are environmental superheroes!” Real Lucky meandered over and began sniffing (and maybe tasting) the empty chair beside me. “Those poor, poor non-goat-owning people,” I thought, sliding the filter so the grime on Picture Lucky’s nose (possibly feces) faded.

That’s when the chair leg bumped my arm and my phone nearly went flying into the air. The empty chair was no longer beside me, but now stuck around Real Lucky’s neck. He was hollering and bucking like crazy. I dislodged the chair quickly from his neck, but we both felt less smug. Or maybe only I felt less smug. Lucky butted the chair right after I freed him, and as I tried posting the pictures, one goat untied my shoe and the other started tasting (okay, maybe eating) the coat I was wearing.

Farms and country life are usually a lot of work, but my efforts are minimal thanks to my husband, an engineer, who built our sturdy barn and large, robust pen that reliably keeps the goats in and predators out. The chickens have a nice coop and a covered run, as well as a goat-proof doorway that allows them ongoing access to the goat pen. We will have to get some more prefab chicken coops to keep the hens comfortable in their own space and not be crammed in together. All I really have to do is feed the animals daily, wander around with the goats in the field and tend to their occasional health needs (worming, clipping their hooves, and brushing them). I take the dog on walks, too, and throw lots of Frisbee.

As I mentioned, I used to work full time in government-for fifteen years in public relations/communications. That was fun, but life is short and I wanted to write for myself, so I quit my job and applied to graduate school. I was fortunate that it was an MFA program that I wanted to complete, as generally these are fully funded. A lot of people who want to attend graduate school have to consider how they are going to pay for their tuition, with many looking for fundraising ideas to help them to achieve their goals. I was one of the lucky ones.

My Writer-ing

In 2014, I graduated from Pacific Lutheran University’s low-residency program, the Rainier Writing Workshop, with my MFA in fiction. Now I take on part-time jobs with state agencies when I feel like government-ing, and the rest of the time I focus on the serious businesses of parenting (my daughter is fifteen), writer-ing, and lazy farming. Sometimes I plant a garden, but more often I hang out at the amazing Olympia Farmer’s Market and find local produce that’s way better than I could grow myself.

My writer-ing includes all the many activities that go along with being a writer. Things like: reading published books, reading and providing feedback on unpublished work, reading for contests, managing author-related social media, launching, teaching classes, doing research, connecting with other writers, attending conferences, blah blah blah. It’s easy to get swallowed up by writer-ing and stop, you know, actually writing. I’m working on not doing that.

In 2015, I “finished” my first book ever! My heart story of growing up in Alaska. After nearly a decade of noodling, I couldn’t believe the book was done. Yeah. But it wasn’t. I received feedback from some people, and finished the book again. And again. I began querying. I wrote a new first chapter. I received rejections. I re-finished the book in January 2016 and pitched to Ooligan Press during a conference at Portland State University. They liked the pitch, asked for my pages, and several months later, I signed my first book contract! And…then I finished the novel many, many more times with the help of my fantastic Ooligan editorial team.

I received feedback from some people, and finished the book again. And again. I began querying. I wrote a new first chapter. I received rejections.

Around January 2017, The Ocean in My Ears was finalized. For real this time. The writing, at least. A bunch of other book stuff has to be completed, but the book is getting closer to really being done (scheduled to launch November 2017). I now have a cover, which I love, and you can preorder The Ocean in My Ears from a bunch of different places, so that’s pretty exciting.

Meagan grew up in Alaska writing poems about injustice and hot boys. She left Alaska to study poetry and literature at the University of Idaho, then spent fifteen years in government communications before breaking up with her career to pursue creative writing.

In 2014, she earned her MFA in fiction at Pacific Lutheran University’s Rainier Writing Workshop. That was a very very good time. Her work has appeared in Narrative, Barrelhouse, and Fugue, as well as the regional anthology, Timberland Writes Together. She lives and plays in the Pacific Northwest with her husband, daughter, dog, cat, two stinky goats, and many chickens.

Find her on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.

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Author: spottedgeckgo

Writer. Making my living on my pen, and working to turn a raw chunk of land into a future homestead.