Voice of the Outback

Voice of the Outback


Someone asked me the other day whether I felt there was anything similar between farming and writing.


SOMEONE asked me the other day whether I felt there was anything similar between farming and writing.

I guess it's a fair question, because farmers have loads of common sense, are strategic thinkers and down to earth.

Writers on the other hand (can be) flighty, emotional and lost in their own little world, having conversations with their imaginary friends.

(It's important to note here, I'm talking about myself and not casting these aspersions onto any other author you may know.)

However, the question got me thinking and this is what I came up with:

Heart and Soul vs Heart and Soul:

Farming: takes absolutely everything you have, plus a bit more.

We love our land, we love our animals and no one would ever do this job unless they adored it.

Writing: takes everything you have, plus a bit more.

Unless you love words, are passionate about entertaining people, you won't produce good results.

Self-doubt vs Self-doubt:

Farming: Sometimes decisions are hard and to sometimes second guess yourself is part of the course.

We're at the whim of the weather, the vagaries of markets and the Australian dollar.

Making an informed choice is a bit like playing Russian Roulette because, if the season is dry and we decide to send sheep away on agistment, it's going to cost us money, but it might rain tomorrow.

If we decide to sell those sheep because the price is good, it might change overnight before we've had the opportunity to ring the stock agent.

What about if we lock the price of fertiliser before it skyrockets?

But then it falls - the Aussie dollar has done something we weren't expecting.

Do you see what I mean?

Writing: I suffer from I-really-can't-write-and-one-day-someone-is-going-to-catch-me-out syndrome.

Self-doubt plagues every writer I know.

How do we fill an empty screen with one hundred or so thousand words?

Have we planted that twist just so?

What if the reader doesn't like it?

What if the sales aren't good?

. Bad Review vs Bad lamb kill results:

Farming: Don't laugh at the comparison.

Our hearts go into producing lambs.

Not only hearts, but science as well.

'Mrs/Mr Housewife/husband', usually only buy on price.

So, when we send lambs to the abattoirs they're expected to fit within certain specifications - weight and fat score.

If they don't, we get docked money.

Genetics play an important role in producing the 'right' lamb, as does feed and management.

We invest so much time and effort into these animals, so to produce an end result that our abattoir doesn't like, hurts us.

Both emotionally and financially.

Writing: Bad reviews?

Well, again, a review is based on the end result of what you've just produced or written.

I think anyone who has been published knows what it feels like to read one of those bad ones.

The emotional investment in a book is huge.

The story is a piece of us - we've sweated, cried and laughed as we've written the words, as we do when we're working with the lambs in the yards.

To realise someone doesn't like it makes you feel sick, devastated.

What about Flood vs A flood of ideas?

Farming - We all know what a wet drought is, not that we've seen one for a while.

If there is too much rain it floods the soil and takes out all of the oxygen and microbes.

The water slowly suffocates the grass, sucking out all of the nitrogen and goodness.

Writing - Have you ever been in the situation where your head just wants to explode because you've had too many ideas?

I know when I suddenly get bombarded with them, I say 'oh yeah I can do that?' and: 'Uhuh, that will work, but what about if I add this in?' and my brain goes into overdrive.

I then achieve absolutely nothing because I'm swamped.

Drought and writer's block is exactly the same but works in the opposite direction.

Some musings from a farmer-without-a-farm listening to all the grain trucks cart to the CBH bins.

Happy harvesting.


From the front page

Sponsored by