If I'm Quiet, This Must Be Nirvana. Or: What I've Been Doing

What have I been doing? A lot. I’m still in that wierd zone of not-quite-knowing what’s next. Not quite, but sort of. But the only way for me to get out of my condition of not-quite-knowing-what's-next is by harvesting ideas. So I’ve been spending my time reading so I can figure out not just what’s next, but, more important, what I think about X, Y, and Z.

Translation: Having written a history of meat in America, I need to prepare myself to discuss not just that book (when it comes out in 2013) but a slew of topics unrelated to it:

Genetically modified organisms; the virtues of organic farming; how to feed the world; what’s good and bad about American agriculture. How to fix a broken food system (assuming it’s even broken, an assumption I’m not sure I accept).

Because that’s how this works: I write a book, and “journalists” want to ask me about everything EXCEPT what’s in that book. And I know that. So: I’m reading up on things I don’t know about.

BUT: I’m also trying to figure out what book to write next. I have an idea but I need to work it out. Right now it's a fragment, a whisp, a ghost of an idea. I need to give it substance and heft. Which also involves, you guessed it, reading and thinking. And since the new book won't be about meat or food politics, that means that at any given moment, part of my brain is traveling one direction, and part of it is headed the opposite direction.

And all that means that on lately I've reading up on: GMOs; the Justice Department’s anti-trust case against Google and several American publishing companies; self-publishing (the ins and outs of it); the meat industry’s response to the Pink Slime debacle; the history of genetics; experiments to control E. coli bacteria in cattle; “open access” and academic publishing; the crisis in academia (U. S. version); ideas about managing urban growth; contemporary European architecture; the roots of American environmentalism; and ideas about a “new” capitalism.

(My Google Reader feed looks like the detritus of a tornado: feeds from here, there, and beyond, all dumped into one reader, with not much connecting A to Z. Add in the stacks of books piled in the living room, in the kitchen, and in my office, all of them about, well, a slew of different topics, and you get my drift.)

And yes, I know that to become “versed” in a topic, I’ve got to focus, and so MOST of what I’ve been reading has been about food politics because that’s what needs to come first. Followed by the elusive whisp of a book idea floating around in my brain. (No, I’m not being coy by not going into detail. It’s still too vague. I tried explaining the idea to my agent a few weeks ago, and I got the “oh, for god’s sake! You're speaking gibberish. Get it together!” look. Which means I’ve got some work to do before the idea is coherent enough to move forward with.) (Bad sentence, but you get my drift.)

Mind you: I’m not complaining. I always thought nirvana would consist of being able to sit in a room and read, write, and think all day long.

I’m living nirvana.

The downside is that because I’m reading, digesting, and thinking, I don’t have a lot to say. Yet. So: radio silence here at the blog.

So: Onward. I’ve written two longish essays that will end up here at the blog, one about GMOs and scientific authority, and one about Food Basics, 101. As soon as I feel those make enough sense to  contribute something worthwhile to the human endeavor, I’ll be posting them.

Bottom line: Do not fear. Ranting and rambling will commence soon.