The Wandering Cow
Regardless of how you read your books these days (or book reviews for that matter!), whether on e-reader, smartphone, piped into your ears with a set of headphones, or in a printed hard copy, things that won’t change are the demand for good storytelling and savvy authors. A command of style and usage, and the ability to entertain a reader are talents that will never go by the wayside. Nor will a certain level of business savvy. In this day and age, it’s important, even, dare I say essential, to be an informed author whether you’re independent or traditionally published. It’s also important to be strong and stick to your passions especially on the roughest days, to know what you want and go for it, to carve time out of the daily grind to write, and stay aware of the market instead of blindly following where others lead. You have to look outside the box, graze outside the fence lines, seek out new solutions and options.
(This next part is related, I swear.)
I bought my first cows in 1998. The first has passed on, but the second has been more or less formally retired after having produced and raised twin calves every year of her reproductive life. Her feet are bad, she’s arthritic, she’s ornery, she doesn’t really get along with the other cows due to her physical handicaps, and she’s also currently at large in my yard.
Our acre or so of lawn backs up to seventy-odd acres of pasture, tillable field, and woods. This old cow, named Essential, was doing poorly a couple weeks ago, having a difficult time in the heat and getting back and forth to water, as well as getting enough to eat. So we had plenty of grass in the lane and yard and decided that she probably wouldn’t leave the general area where the other cows were, so we let her out and she’s been clanking around ever since.
It’s taken quite a while to get used to looking out the window and seeing her grazing beside the parked vehicles, or laying in the shade of the stand of trees beside our house. But she’s happy as a clam, bad back feet and all, and you better watch your butt if she sees you with a grain bucket, because that cow will run you down to get feed.
This is a great time to be an author. For the first time in history, due to digital books and ease of independent publishing, midlist authors report that they are able to make a living by writing full-time. But it takes a lot of “testicular fortitude,” as an old cowboy friend of mine would have called it. You have to be savvy, you have to be flexible, you have to be adaptable, you have to get up every day and write. You can’t think, “I don’t feel like a writer today; I’ll wait until I’m inspired.” You have to work at inspiration. Sounds a little like that old cow of mine too. She doesn’t get up in the morning and think, “I don’t feel like a cow today. I don’t think I’ll graze.” If she doesn’t graze, she doesn’t eat.
What I really love about this cow is that she’s fierce, she’s independent, she has a sense of humor, she’s her own person… erm, cow. She has a zest and passion for life and for what she does every day and no one is going to take that away from her. She possesses a great zest for life, even though as she gets older her quality of life is slowly declining. But she shows no signs of giving up, and watching her enthusiasm and inner drive feels, in its own way, a little inspirational every day. I love this cow, both for herself and for her spirit and how she stands for what it means to me to be a writer.
Who says old cows can’t teach us new tricks?
Until next time, graze hard.
- The Sweet Girl by Annabel Lyon – (Fiction) The story of Aristotle’s daughter told in vivid, intoxicating prose. Could not get it out of my head. Think Margaret Atwood’s The Penelopiad with Mesopotamian philosophers.
- Your First Thousand Copies by Tim Grahl – (Business and Marketing) Writer or not, if you’re ready for a new approach to marketing, the ideas presented here are fantastic.
- The Handmaiden’s Tale by Margaret Atwood – (Fiction) This is an older novel, but I’m listening to it for the first time and it’s seriously freaking me out. Quiet apocalypses are always more frightening than the fire and brimstone kind, in my opinion. And Claire Danes gives a wonderful performance in the audiobook.
Axie Barclay is a Michigan writer with a cow-habit. Having discovered the joys and potential for growth inalternative agriculture, she quests ever longer and harder for ways to combine farming and writing into a business. When not milking cows, making disgruntled noises at the latest disgusting thing the heeler dogs dredge up, riding horses, or keeping the fence up around her small beef herd, she’s holed up reading an eclectic array of books or tapping out pages. When not working, she enjoys kicking back with her honey, family, and friends at a bonfire with some beers. Chat her up on Twitter and Facebook, /axieb, or http://barclayfarmsandlit.blogspot.com where she delves into literature and agriculture with a relish… and occasionally ketchup. Soon to be homemade.
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