When David and Jeanne Marler made the decision to spend at least a year in the woods, friends asked David if he would write a book. He agreed. At the outset, he imagined himself musing about the workings of the larger world from the perspective of nature. But what happened was very different.
His friends wanted to know more about the details of their life. How long can a 70-year-old man continue to carry water up from a hole in the ice every day? How long can a woman put up with using an outhouse?
With a solar-powered internet connection, and being very busy with all his chores, David found it a challenge to answer individual requests. Instead, he called on Tempo to see if they would support him in writing a regular column. Tempo said yes and, for a year, his stories about the practical workings of life in the woods appeared in the paper. These articles framed the eventual book. But David was missing a key ingredient. Would his stories of life in the woods be interesting to anyone outside of his circle of friends? The answer to this question was found in the second year.
Tempo too wanted to know if it could find an online audience. David agreed to be Tempo’s online writing guinea pig. Tempo began a test blog and reposted these stories onto Facebook.
The most popular stories that Tempo put online during this test period were David’s articles. Online, his audience expanded to people beyond his circle of friends and outside the locality of Knowlton. His new readers included people from all over North America. Access online meant that readers now chatted directly with David about practical things such as the best ways to chop and to stack wood. Readers also guided his future writing by suggesting new topics.
This discovery of a widespread and engaged readership gave David the assurance that a book based on his, and Jeanne’s, practical experience would have a market. This assurance made it easier to find a voice and a publisher