I live on our 87 acre farm located between two small towns in Michigan. We are in the country, but only 30 minutes away from Grand Rapids, Michigan, and less than 10 minutes from the highway! I’m responsible for all animal welfare, construction, maintenance, and fieldwork (on the tractor). During our first hellish year building the farm, I kept thinking I must be in a nightmare, or living someone’s book. It was catastrophe after catastrophe and pure insanity stuffing six kids into a small (ok, so it was actually a large one) camper.
The farm was 100% vacant — it didn’t even have standing power! Every field, fence and building we toiled over, putting all the kids to work (if you can call it work . . . I called it messing around and fighting).
Three years later, we’re STILL toiling, but it’s finally slowing down. That first year I took notes — I knew it would have to be a story. It was too crazy NOT to be.
I’d always aspired to become a great writer ever since the 4th Grade when my teacher assigned us the weekly task of writing a new story every week.
Over the years, life got in the way of settling down to seriously look at getting published, but I made sure to find time to journal, blog or pick away at previous stories.
When we finally settled into a house on our new property, I knew my first story would be the memoir of life on the farm.
After much agonizing debate on how to “find the time”, I settled on waking-up at 5am to pick-away at it for an hour. And the best place to “get-away” would have to be the dog kennel. A few filing cabinets and a chunk of plywood made me my desk (note Finley’s head popping up over the door to the right. He does this a lot and tends to snort on me).
That first morning the coffee was already brewing when my alarm went off at 5am. I couldn’t open my eyes. I felt like I was underwater trying to reach the surface. I willed each leg to swing over the edge of the bed and fell over twice on my way to the bathroom.
Through narrow slits, I concentrated on pouring my coffee, then grabbed my laptop and headed for the dog kennel. I sat staring at my computer for 20 minutes trying to gather my thoughts on how to begin. I glanced through my notes, then just began telling the story of camper life from the beginning. I decided the camper story would be the one. Had to be . . . otherwise I’d probably forget some of the key parts of the story!
I started in early October 2015, and finished in June of 2016. Then I went through and edited it front to back 5 times. Each day I wrote, I found myself to be in a better mood. I was less depressed, happier, less grouchy and I went to bed excited to wake up at 5am.
Sure my first story was a memoir, but I decided it would be a FUN memoir. Camper life was pretty much Hell, but I didn’t want the story to be hell. It was hard trying to remember the positive points and portray the bigger picture. While living in the camper I had been so optimistic that things would get better once we got into a house, and once we got water and electric. It didn’t.
It only got more demanding, more stressful, and more work!