One of the most common things people say to me is "You are Living The Dream!" What people see is a woman on a farm, working from home, and following her passion for a creative life. That is all true, but I am not living a dream. I am fighting like hell to keep a dream. "Living a dream" conveys the sense of success and ease. That is not the case here. And recently that fight has me down for the count. I feel like I am failing Cold Antler Farm.
I came to this farm with the identity that I was a writer. Since 2008 I have published five books about this adventure. Right now my 6th book is being edited and will be self published later this year. Writing books has been my identity and my sense of self worth as an adult, but selling another one to an established publisher is getting harder and harder. My agent has two proposals for books I am very passionate about and desperately want to write, but no contract has been signed in years on this little farm. This lack of that professional-bound-Nationally-shelf-stocked work is one way I feel like a failure. Because being an "author' was who I thought I was. But now my income comes from freelance design, writing, and illustrations. I don't know what to call myself these days when people ask what I do for a living. I am failing at being a working author.
Cold Antler Farm was created right before Made From Scratch, my first book, came out. This was before the boom of social media and blogs were hot. I got lucky with timing and boldness, and got that book contract signed on my 25th birthday. The book did well enough to bring readers to the blog, people getting to know a 25-year-old dreamer talking honestly about her goals and trying to get a farm of her own.
For years I wrote and grew alongside this audience. Your kindness, support, and stories was a drug that fueled this fever dream. In 2010, I bought this farm and had published three books in around two years. Talk about an ego boost. I felt invincible. I felt amazing. But I think people were done with my story after the farm was bought in 2010, thinking that was the best place to end the movie. I can't blame them.
But the story didn't end at signing mortgage. The story right now IS the mortgage. The story is keeping the lights on, the animals happy, the place legally mine, and to work hard as hell to get the break I need to be more comfortable. I don't like this slow numbness of the uphill crawl towards solvency. I don't like feeling any of this. But here is what I do know, and I am certain of: It is temporary.
There is no quitting. There is no plan B. There will be success and I am sure of it. I don't know how or what avenue, but it will happen if I can just keep going. I firmly believe that as soon as I give up, I relinquish that contract with my future. It's not something I can explain well, but these are truths to me. I am as sure of this as rain. And what may come across as stubbornness and idiocy to those reading this right now - it's more like faith. These past few years have been the darkest and things will get better. And I believe getting to tell the story of that journey of certainty is important.
So I run.
I will not stop running.
And every single mile I run feels like part of the road that takes me there.
If you can help, please help. Help by sharing my story with others who care about food, farms, and luckless slingers. If someone you know needs a logo or illustration, drop my name and contact information. Give one of my books to a friend to read. Share a post you liked here with friends via email. Get the word out that in this messy and gross election year there's this scrappy woman who refuses to give up, shut up, or stop the climb. Because that is what it will take, grassroots effort. And I hope we can all look back on this time of fear and uncertainty on this blog and realize it is times like this when the wolves were at the door that she learned to howl.