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  • Writer's pictureBecca Whitham

The Cost of Doing Business

I love research. It's my absolute favorite part of the writing process. I read biographies and histories, I go places to see the topography and meet people, or I watch how a blacksmith works with tools. Fascinating stuff!!

Today I visited an organic farm just outside Fairbanks, AK. The growing season is short so they pack a lot into a few months. Once the growing season is over, the farm makes money by holding special events. At the end of this month, there's a three-day event with mutliple workshops. You can watch blacksmithing, learn how to plant and grow organically, and how to card and spin wool. Next spring, when the sheep have full coats, you can do a "from sheep to yarn" workshop where you do everything from shearing to carding to spinning.

My insides are happy dancing just thinking about the possiblities. For a city girl who writes historicals, the chance to experience frontier living, even for a day, is fabulous.

Until they tell me the price. Three-hundred dollars for the weekend. you have any idea how much an author doesn't make? To which I hear a little voice that says, "Do you have any idea how much an organic farmer doesn't make?"

I don't garden. At all. Plants hate me. So I happily eat the fruits of someone else's labor. I have no idea - NONE - what goes into growing vegetables or how much harder it is to do it organically. I've never raised animals with an expectation of making money off of them. I have no idea - NONE - what it costs to care for sheep and how much you need to charge for their wool to cover it. And you can guess how much I know about blacksmithing.

What I do know is how much goes into writing. Most people know an author writes stories, but I also write weekly blog posts, go to monthly meetings, and spend exhorbitant amounts of time and energy researching and writing stories that go nowhere on the off chance one of them will. I get paid for none of that. It's the cost of doing business.

I'm not complaining. It's part of the job.

What I am saying is I'm getting less and less interested in "bargain hunting" when it comes to food and books. Because you get what you pay for. Maybe not this instant, but certainly over time. We all make choices about where to spend our money. I'll wear last decade's clothes for a healthy meal and a good book.

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