Tod Davies is the editor/publisher of Exterminating Angel Press, as well as the author of Jam Today: A Diary of Cooking with What You've Got, and The History of Arcadia books: Snotty Saves the Day, and the upcoming Lily the Silent (Oct. 2012). She believes everybody needs to get out on the prairie and run free once in awhile.
Exterminating Angel Press - tell me you don't insta-crush that name? - took its name from the classic film by Luis Buñuel. According to their website, they value the everyday over the transcendent, mutuality over hierarchy, equity over power, the search for truth together over the scramble for victory apart, and jam today over jam tomorrow. Here's Tod, sharing her thoughts on what Being Indie means to her....
I can never shake one particular image that seems to me to perfectly express what I feel about being an indie publisher…or indeed, an indie anything. And that is of a mustang on the prairie, tough, wary, determined to survive on its own terms, always moving…and, I must add joyful, with the kind of joy that only comes with calling one’s life one’s own, and living on equal terms with even the most powerful forces that surround one.
That’s not a bad place to be, that prairie. The forage might be hard to find at times (damn hard, especially at certain unfavorable seasons), the predators canny and numerous…and you might, many days and particularly many nights, look enviously at the sleek, well-fed, well-cared for thoroughbreds in their comfortable stables with their regular meals. But in the end, it’s a matter of temperament and desire. Who are you? What do you want most? If who you are is an animal that most wants to be free to explore the terrain, and maybe tap out what you’ve found to your fellows, there really is no other truly satisfying road.
There’s a border, too, between the prairie and the well-kept paddocks, and maybe that’s where the most interesting communications happen between the wild independent mustang and (if you don’t mind me going on with my analogy) the well-bred stable horse. Those fences where the two can meet, and, if not frightened of each other, can exchange information…feelings, ways of doing, meanings. Needs. Those points may be the most interesting of all.
A world that has anything going for it needs different forms of life. To be an indie…to be out there on the prairie…is to live the life that risks disasters of all kinds, and gains insights that aren’t available to the more circumscribed round in the stables of the towns. Insights born, frequently, of the necessity of looking for answers to feed you where none have been looked for before…and of facing realities that might be hidden from those living an easier, glossier, more celebrated life. Insights that might help on a dark night, when the storm comes up, and the hungry cougars are on the prowl. Which is more likely to survive a night like that? A rosette studded thoroughbred with a pedigree an arm long? Or a tough little mustang that’s made it this far down the road? One who probably knows a thing or two about battling hungry cougars.
They’ve certainly both got their place. But before you jump to conclude that the thoroughbred’s life is the better one, you might want to stop and think that the little prairie mustang’s life may have benefits and joys and downright wallowings in truths that aren’t available to the lovely horses that live in the well-irrigated, well-fenced, well-kept towns. There’s something to be said for a free race across prairies and mountains in all kinds of weather, even if that freedom comes at the cost of things like gopher holes and snakes and snow three foot deep on the ground. There’s something to be said for that kind of freedom, after all.