Today, my first book is officially released. Growing a Farmer
is the story of my turning this rough-scrabble piece of earth into a productive, verdant farm, and of my personal transformation from a slick urbanite into someone who milks cows twice a day and spends most of the year in mud boots.
As this is my first endeavor in the publishing business, I knew little of what to expect. I must admit that I had the same outdated, preconceived notions that many unfamiliar with the business have. For example, I believed that I would call my editor and we would have relaxing phone chats about ideas and literature, when in fact, whenever my cell phone would ring and display a New York City prefix, I would jump, fearful that I had missed a deadline or that I had disappointed everyone in that midtown office with the manuscript that I had sent.
I have also spent much too much time explaining to friends and acquaintances that even though my book was published by a large, reputable New York publisher, I had not been so well paid that I could retire to the south of France. I doubt that I will ever be able to reside in Provence and certainly not as a result of writing a book or two. I do take it as a vote of confidence, though, that people across the nation could be interested in reading what I have to say.
There has been a remarkable upside to the publication of Growing a Farmer. Whereas a year ago I was just some schmuck making cheese on his farm in the suburbs of Seattle and spouting out my opinions on small agriculture, now that those ideas are all printed in a nice, tidy form, they have achieved legitimacy. They have bone fide value today. They still may be faulty or illegitimate or just plain silly, but now that they have been vetted by an editor, they have some credence.
As evidence of this, Michael Pollan came out to my farm today to join me for lunch. Yes, that Michael Pollan, bestselling author of The Omnivore's Dilemma and In Defense of Food. We had never met prior, but evidently I am now someone worth dining with. I must say that we have always put out a great spread here at the farm: cheese and cured meats, breads, crackers and pasta, vegetables, and of course, always a large platter of the most golden scrambled eggs. My hens here are noble beasts and produce such lovely eggs that I must show them off. And without question, the butter of Kurtwood Farms is well-known in these parts for its high quality. But it's not just knowing that he would be well-fed; it is the idea in this culture that the published author is an authority, a voice worth listening to.
I am not sure that letting the publishers and editors be the gatekeepers to positions of authority in our culture is the best system, but I cannot recommend a better one. At least now that I've gotten to peek into the clubhouse, I am quite enjoying it.