Have I mentioned I’m officially at work on my first book? It’s called A Field Guide to Listening.

Immersive reporting & in-depth research are the lifeblood of my writing. Getting into the world is how I get into my stories. To bring my stories to you, I need your support now, just for a little bit, as I make this significant leap to my first book. The magazine work I’ve done intermittently for so many years is rigorous, but each story comes with a small travel budget & compensation for the words. With a book deal, it’s much different; the advance is just a tiny drop in the bucket to get you to your goal. Twelve individual reporting trips, months on end of research. … So while you might think getting a book deal would make you feel closer to a book than ever, it actually becomes maddeningly out of reach. It’s just ahead, but how will you get there? For an immersive nonfiction writer, it’s confusing to be told “go do it” but not to get the support you need to make it happen. Not only are you the artist, the writer, the reporter, & the traveler, but you must figure out how to fund your labors & survive. All the while the vision for your book is gnawing at you. How to bring it to fruition, make it live?

So, I thank you tremendously for seeing this, & for supporting the book, if you have already. If you haven’t yet, will you consider it? I’ve set a goal, but let’s face it, even the goal I set is a ludicrously small amount to live on for almost a year while I do this work that will require me to step away temporarily from teaching, from PhD coursework, & from the hustle of individual mag pieces. So my goal now is to go beyond. Beyond, because: eleven reporting trips to go.

If you’re tempted to think, well, I too would love to go to the rainforest & write about it!, gee I wish someone would give me $!, please consider: the reporting I do requires extensive relationship-building ahead of time. Many phone calls & emails. Planning & scheduling & aligning with others’ activities. Other than this one of me on the cover of Metro Pulse, reporting one of my first significant longform pieces of environmental reportage (my love letter to Knoxville’s First Creek), I have no photos of me doing this work because I have always gone alone. It’s often, yes, lonely, & it’s always hard. It takes a lot of energy to gather stories, to listen attentively, to pay attention for long stretches of time while ingesting the knowledge of others, to learn about new surroundings & geographies, to absorb the histories of places, to keep your eyes & heart wide open, AND to stay alert & vigilant about your safety as a woman. I am often asked to bear witness to gruesome & grim environmental degradation & human & more-than-human sufferings.

I’ve always been responsible to the people & places & creatures that I write about in a way that I take very seriously. I don’t travel first-class, I’ve slept on couches with bedbugs & other weird places, & I usually pack my own food. I take buses & trains when possible. It’s not a vacation. It is, though, as I said, the lifeblood of my work, one of its prices.

When the door in NYC finally opened to me, when I finally had a publisher waiting patiently for me to deliver, I was frozen & stumped about how to actually make the book happen. But with each little bit of support I’ve received from you all in the past month, I am filled with another ounce of hope that I can do it, & I feel myself more able, day by day now, to give myself to these labors of the writing that pain & give me pleasure, give me a pulse & a heartbeat & give me the stories & the words that you’ll read on the pages.

You can visit the crowdfunding campaign here today and support.

Thank you, dear readers!