I Owe My Soul to the Company Store

I am accumulating resources on a half-dozen different large topics, as if I had a press deadline looming in the way I did for seven years–until I gave up the biweekly column a year ago December, so I could focus on my own writing projects.

Guess what: It has been more than a year, and although there were a few months when I really hunkered down and drafted maybe 35k words on the Floyd County Almanac, that was then.

Now, I’m knee-deep in work that is not particularly my own. It is mine in terms of responsibility but not mine in terms of genesis or passion.

A couple of guy friends and their wives were over last weekend. Two of the fellas cornered me in the kitchen.

“Fred, this is an intervention. it’s great you’re doing (and they listed a few of the things I’m spending my time on these days.) But you MUST get back to writing your book.”

And I agree. But find myself rationalizing that it is Project A or Project B that prevents me, and once that is out of the way, THEN I will drill back into who I am when I’m in close touch with the Muse and in the FLOW. But after Project B, Project C inevitably emerges unanticipated, but screaming for attention.

There’s TEDx in April, and then a Methodist thing in May, and the summer classical music series in Floyd in June. And of course by then, it will be grass mowing and gardening season, when I find it almost impossible to insinuate an hour of focused writing into the doing of outdoor chores.

Some of those half-dozen essays I mentioned in the beginning, as well as the general focus of the program I did at Ferrum in February and the upcoming TEDx–these things are not far off the mark of the writing I want to incorporate in the book. So it’s not like my other projects are entirely opposed to this personal focus I have apparently abandoned.

So I continue to ruminate on matters that matter, at least to me. I just don’t find blogging about them gathers very much response or interest.

But I can’t stop myself from gathering resources: Permafrost, Meaning vs Happiness, Synthetic Biology, The Language of Art, Creativity and Flow…

It keeps me off the streets. But I truly don’t know exactly what I’m all about lately. I can’t remember the last time I had the Nikon in my hands. Pity.

Gotta go. Maybe 80 hours of copyediting to do between now and May. One hour of that, before I let myself eat breakfast. And you can see somebody held a gun to my head and made me spend 10 minutes before breakfast doodling from a picture of the house…

BOOMERS: The title of this piece comes from….anyone?

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Fred First holds masters degrees in Vertebrate Zoology and physical therapy, and has been a biology teacher and physical therapist by profession. He moved to southwest Virginia in 1975 and to Floyd County in 1997. He maintains a daily photo-blog, broadcasts essays on the Roanoke NPR station, and contributes regular columns for the Floyd Press and Roanoke's Star Sentinel. His two non-fiction books, Slow Road Home and his recent What We Hold in Our Hands, celebrate the riches that we possess in our families and communities, our natural bounty, social capital and Appalachian cultures old and new. He has served on the Jacksonville Center Board of Directors and is newly active in the Sustain Floyd organization. He lives in northeastern Floyd County on the headwaters of the Roanoke River.

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  1. I’m not a Boomer, but I certainly recall where this came from and who made it famous!

    Good luck with your “But, first….” disease. We all seem to be infected – at least at times if not throughout our lives.

  2. According to Wikipedia, the song was written and recorded by Merle Travis in 1946. But the subject of the song, the company store, goes back many centuries, so no doubt George Davis’ claim that Travis based his song on one he wrote, “Nine-to-ten-tons” has merit. The company store is no laughing matter – it exists to this day in the labor camps in Florida and, for that matter, all over the world.