It’s cold outside. This is an important fact in my corner of the universe, as I have spent the bulk of the past two weeks sleeping in a car in the snow because of a dream.

Trixie in the Snow at Ship Fire
Trixie investigates the deer tracks.

The summer I turned fifteen I worked at a summer camp as a maintenance monkey. I loved it—I especially loved the idea of a place where people could gather and have a few weeks out of normal life to focus on something they considered important. A dream planted itself in my mind that summer: of owning a place that provided that kind of a retreat for people.

I’ve been chasing that dream ever since. It’s one of three things that are more important to me than almost anything else in the world. One of the others is writing. The other is people—friends, family, and fellow travelers who are trying to ride out the insanity of a world in upheaval.

Five years ago I decided to become homeless in pursuit of the dream of buying the land on which I could build that retreat center—a place for writers and artists to get away from everything and have quiet, and be surrounded by beauty, where they could do their thing. Along the way I got waylaid by one of the other important things. Family needed me, and I spent several years when I was supposed to be buying and building my retreat center instead building out my parents’ retirement and helping someone close to me deal with Long COVID.

During that time I found the place that will eventually become that retreat center, and nearly bankrupted myself buying it. Upon returning to the west I found that many of the resources I’d put in place to get me up and running had decayed from disuse in the longer-than-anticipated detour. I spent the summer scrambling to get things back together, but supply chains are…well, they’re not kind to us plebs right now, so I found myself frozen out of the land before I could make it secure enough to survive a winter on it.

I’m writing this from a small basement room where my partner, our dog, and I will spend the winter, close enough to our new home to taste it. It’s a fate that Tantalus could relate to. But after the gnarliest, most heartbreaking and hardscrabble year in a series of gnarly, heartbreaking and hardscrabble years, I find myself in the unusual position of knowing first hand how tenuous is the thread by which we all hang.

The support of you who read this blog, and the substack series, and who listen to The Every Day Novelist, who backed the recent kickstarter, and who have bought my books and supported my fiction podcasts has literally saved my life on at least three occasions over the last few years. So on this Thanksgiving eve, I want to extend to all of you my heartiest warmth and gratitude.

It’s cold outside. I know it’s cold out there for a lot of you. The world around us is in a hell of a state, and it’s gonna be that way for a while. Take a moment and hug the people around you. Do your best not to lash out at them because the world makes you feel powerless. Hang in there. In the end, your life is yours and you can make something of it that you value even in the most dire of circumstances.

As the snow falls in the north, and the twilight of the year rushes up to meet us, remember:

The sun will return from the south. Spring will come again. The demagogues and tyrants and social climbers and dishonest dip shits who beset you will not outlast you if you hold on long enough and keep on working towards the things you value.

Some dreams are worth sleeping in the cold for. Some are even worth dying for. And any dream that’s worth that much is worth something even more difficult and demanding:

It’s worth living for.

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