“The best time for planning a book is while you’re doing the dishes.”- Agatha Christie
Researching and writing a book will rip through your bank account like an Exocet missile if you don’t plan ahead. Even if your project is 100% fiction – spun from the embers of your imagination – the time you’ll spend producing copy and slavishly editing every damn page is time that you could have spent making money. And in today’s economy, most of us can’t afford to spend the majority of our waking hours working pro bono. We need a day job to support our creative habits.
When I began Drive All Night, I knew that I’d have to adopt an unconventional, transient lifestyle if I wanted to save enough money to complete this summer’s interview tour while keeping my focus on the project. For the past month, I’ve paid the bills by picking up freelance editing jobs and selling off a few synthesizers that hadn’t been touched by human hands for at least two years. But for April and May, I’ll be spending half of my time doing something particularly rugged.
Friends, I give thee Zealand Valley: my new part-time home and place of employment between now and June.
This beautiful place is tucked deep within the White Mountains of New Hampshire. Over the past few years, I’ve spent several seasons working in the backcountry for a respectable nonprofit called the Appalachian Mountain Club. My bi-weekly job this spring will be to inhabit and upkeep one of the club’s remote wilderness hostels: a quaint wooden nest called Zealand Falls Hut. The hut can accommodate up to 36 hikers in cozy bunk beds. As the live-in caretaker, I welcome visitors, show them how to use the stove to cook the food they’ve packed with them and hopefully prevent an untimely incineration of the building. When I’m not tending to guests – who only tend to visit on the weekends – I’ll spend the day chopping wood, doing occasional trail repairs, reading, writing, attempting yoga if I’m ambitious. and trying to eat the kind of diet you read about in Men’s Health.
Now I know it might seem funny for me to be darting off into the forest in the midst of Drive All Night’s web launch. One might ask, “Why not just get a job waiting tables so you don’t have to go off the grid every other week?” I explored this option and considered going down that road. But working a seasonal job like this one has many underlying perks with regard to a mentally draining task like writing a book.
#1: Ample downtime to think and work on personal projects.
#2: No rent + food requisitions + reasonable pay = serious savings.
#3: Low stress environment.
#4: Frequent traffic of sociable visitors – including Millennials!
#5: Limitless fitness opportunities. (Okay, this has nothing to do with the book, but still…)
Rest assured: we’re still in the formative stages of Drive All Night. The Millennial interviews will continue, as will the pre-departure trip posts. (The posting frequencies will change a bit, with a post-heavy week followed by a light one, and so forth.) I’ll even throw in some photogenic updates from the woods when I get a chance to hike somewhere with wi-fi for the afternoon. Meanwhile, summer travel updates will continue throughout April. I can confirm the western leg of the tour is now fully booked, and the midwest should follow within the next week!
My first backwoods stint begins this Friday. Check back before then for two upcoming posts: an interview with a fellow Granite Stater, and a look at the most Millennial-driven movies in theaters right now.
PS: If anyone feels like stuffing a few steaks and some bottles of pilsner into a backpack and visiting me this spring, drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org