In the year 2000, casting around for a way to generate some income to supplement our business, my husband suggested I try writing a series of newspaper columns concerning life on a homestead.
I thought it was a splendid idea. Why not write about what I knew? I wrote several columns and naïvely tried to peddle them to various newspapers. Needless to say I was roundly ignored.
Still, the idea caught hold that people might like to read about our lifestyle – the depths of one’s ego never ceases to amaze me – and somehow the columns expanded into a book…a book about how we left the city and moved to the country, drolly titled Bear Poop and Applesauce (both of which we had in abundance on our property).
This was the start to my desire to be published. I’d been writing on and off for years but had never gotten anything into print. Upon writing Bear Poop, the wish to be a writer deepened. (Bear Poop is still an unpublished manuscript.)
Life went on. Slowly over the course of that decade and through the birth of our two daughters, we pulled ourselves up by every bootstrap possible until the business was capable of supporting our family. It doesn’t support us in a state of luxury, you understand…except the luxury of no commute, no boss, and no corporate environment.
The desire for additional land took hold, and in 2003 we sold our beloved Oregon place. Now we are pleased to call home a forty-acre farm in north Idaho, far away from the city lights.
One day in 2005 Countryside Magazine, to which we had subscribed for years, asked for reader feedback on their Question of the Month: What are the pleasures and pitfalls of a homestead business? Well my goodness, if anyone could write knowledgably about that, I could. I wrote a very long (6000 words) article that not only described what we did, but advice on how to go about starting a home craft business. To my utter surprise they printed the entire thing along with four photos. Wow.
It was my first published article, and it was a heady experience indeed.
I received many favorable comments from readers about this article, which gave me the chutzpah to call the editor and pitch the idea of a continuing series of columns on the subject of starting a home craft business. The editor – an incredibly nice woman - agreed, and I’ve written for Countryside ever since.
Encouraged, I began writing magazine articles like crazy. Not just for Countryside, but for a number of publications that specialized in the subjects I knew well – rural life, home craft businesses, book collecting, homeschooling. I began to accrue what I call writing credits.
Meanwhile I was pursuing another subject of interest, that of simple living. I read everything I could get my hands on. I searched websites. I scoured libraries.
By almost everyone’s definition, my husband and I were leading “simple lives.” Here we were living in the country, growing or raising a portion of our own food, and line-drying our clothes (aren’t you impressed?). Then why did almost every book I read on simple living leave me shaking my head?
According to the books in print, it seemed that unless you lived green, recycled with a vengeance bordering on the religious, got rid of your worldly possessions, and endorsed only one certain political viewpoint…then you weren’t living simply. Simple as that.
The reason I shook my head over these conclusions is because, to me, that is not simple living. That’s green living, or ascetic living, or political living…but not “simple” living.
I remember the very moment I concluded that I should write my own book about the subject. It was early in the morning and I was trolling Amazon.com, looking (once again) for a book on simple living that would coincide with my own views. Once again I grew frustrated that all books pointed in the same direction as mentioned above. Was there nothing out there in print that reflected my beliefs?
It came over me like a thunderclap that I was just as qualified as anyone else to write that book. Thus was born Life 101: 101 Lessons in Simple Living.*