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Resurrecting a Writing Project--spending the pandemic time off working on a book.

Posts: 19
Location: Oshkosh WI
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Years back I started working on a book mostly geared toward the "survivalist" community (a group that today tend to call themselves "preppers").  Having grown up with a Vietnam Vet father, the original version was a pretty dark thing.  After a great deal of work, it got shelved and ultimately lost to history.

Now, some 20 years later, I have some fragments of writing projects that I've been trying to resurrect.  About a year ago, I thought of trying to crowd-source such a project, but figured "who would care?"  In a stable world, in the richest country on earth, why would someone want to read about back yard chicken production, making biodiesel...

Fast forward to today. I took a job in early Janurary as an R and D chemist with a startup. Unfortunately with the pandemic, the university is closed and with that came my termination notice....

I've spent the last week hammering away at the keyboard.  I'm around 30 pages in, a lot of nice illustrations, etc.   Today, I think, it would be more relevant than at any other point in history.  People are freaked out.  The grocery store shelves are empty.  Several neighbors (I live in town) have been inquiring about my tiny little back yard chicken flock (7 hens--that's chicken math, as 5 is the legal limit :-) ).

I'm curious what the forum member's thoughts are on the subject?  I'm a PhD chemist by training.  I know a lot about a lot of stuff. But obviously, I don't know anything about even more stuff :-)  

As I've been really reading through this forum in recent weeks, and realizing their are really some knowledgable people, do you think it would be an interesting undertaking to combine forces, and try to crank out a volume?  Not necessarily on "permaculture"--but certainly about many of the subject that permaculture concerns itself with. Food production, energy, sustainable construction....   My original premise was pretty dark, concerned with politics, conspiracy theory, etc.   The one I'm working on now would be strictly apolitical.  But definitely with a bent toward recovering after some sort of wide-spread disaster.  

A year ago that seemed kind of tinfoil hat stuff.  But today? With the world's economy on the brink of collapse, and an entire planet faced with a serious pandemic?  Not so crazy anymore.  The volume as it's being written now, would be geared towards people who maybe never had an interest in the subject before, but after this, are sort of shocked awake.

I got the idea last spring, actually.  I ordered and raised a bunch of chicks.  I gave half of them to my sister.  Her father in law--who is a pharmacist by training (not a dumb person) had literally NO CLUE about how this would work.  He had difficulty believing that the hens would lay eggs without a rooster, had no idea that they would lay, but not lay fertilized eggs without a rooster.  It dawned on me at that moment that post WWII people in many cases have not the slightest idea how to carry out any of these useful skills.  How to even put a tomato in the ground, much less prepare a garden bed, or bake a loaf of sourdough bread.

There would be a lot of potential, I think, for a book that had a handful of very basic subjects.  Preparing a garden bed (some "square foot" methods, intensive methods, etc), raising some chickens (free ranging, "chicken tractors", breeding, etc), a section on wood heating (ideas for building wood stoves, rocket stoves, cutting and curing fire wood...).  

I had a pretty easy time learning permaculture, having grown up on a farm with hippy parents. I devoured Back to Basics (my copy is duct taped together, broken from so much use).

Anyone else interested in contributing?  Can I call on anyone for photos?  I'm looking specifically for pictures of "barnyard mix" chickens, images of rocket stoves, wood stoves, etc.

I don't know--I suspect I will have a LOT of time on my hands in the coming weeks.  Job hunting, when nobody is actually going to work and most of the local industry is closed down?  I need to be working on something productive.

Anywya, just thought I'd run the ideas past you guys, see if anyone had any thoughts. I'm a good writer. My dissertation took 4th place in national competition about 5 years ago.  

Everyone, thanks for all the info and polite discussion here.  Stay safe, stay healthy!
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Location: 6a
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How about starting a website and monetize it through affiliate marketing.  You could also self-publish fiction and/or non-fiction books, sell them on your website or use them to get traffic.
John Kestell
Posts: 19
Location: Oshkosh WI
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That's a good idea.  Self publishing is an idea I really like, actually.  When I was looking over some numbers, going through a publisher it's shocking how little actually goes to the author.

I was also thinking of trying to crowd source the project to some extent--just a little income to float it until it was finished.  Unfortunately several years ago I largely got off of social media. No more Twitter, Facebook or Instagram for me.  So it would be down to promoting it on LinkedIn (I have maybe 300 friends--not huge).

But I do like the idea of "passive income". Do the work once, and then reap the rewards.  It certainly wouldn't generate enough to retire on, but everything helps.  And also it's a project I believe in.  It would be useful information, geared for people with limited or even zero experience.    Just kind of an eclectic collection to get people thinking outside the box a little bit.  
Posts: 212
Location: WV
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Curious to know if you've proceeded with this?  I agree that it would indeed be a valuable resource.  I once started a project to document some of the old-time skills that are in danger of becoming lost. I had some help in a lady who had the same interests.  Unfortunately she went through a rough period in her life and moved away leaving no forwarding address and talking many hours of photos and interviews with her.  So if you decide to enlist help, set some guidelines.  

Honestly I think this would entail more than one book.  I'm thinking something along the lines of Foxfire meets The Encyclopedia of Country Living with an organic/permaculture slant.

I was lucky to have grown up with my grandparents and great-grandparents in my life.  It has given me quite the advantage when it comes to gardening, chickens, etc..  Sometimes it's easy to forget that not everyone has the same knowledge.

As for publishing, I second the self-publishing idea.  While there is an up-front cost, you do have more creative control.  Another thought is digital self-publishing, which would probably be worth looking into.  You will need to do some self-promotion.  I'm not a fan of Facebook as I only created an account to do promotional work for a business I was aquatinted with.  You can however choose to create just a page for your work and to keep your followers updated on the progress.
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