What It Looks Like At The End

I thought about finding a photo of a runner breaking through finish-line tape. Then I looked around at and realized — there lay the image with which to encapsulate the final, extraordinarily stressful push to the end: My office.  

Office One

Although these photos don’t do it justice. It looks MUCH worse in person. (My friend Anat Baron would reel in horror and run away as fast as she could.)

But toward the end, that’s what I was doing: rummaging through file crates hunting for a document (because for most of this long slog, scanning, digital files, etc. weren’t readily available; the amount of paper I accumulated dropped off significantly in the final phases as the number of databases and sources increased by a geometric amount). (*1)

Office TWO

It’s a mess, isn’t it? But a mess has NEVER felt so good.

There’s still much to be done as the manuscript moves into production: dealing with copyedits, proofreading, creating the index, compiling a media list, and so forth. But it’s a book, folks, it’s a BOOK. (Okay, not technically. Technically it’s still a manuscript.)

Title is IN MEAT WE TRUST: An Unexpected History of Carnivore America. I’m not crazy about it, but as a compromise (and publishing is one compromise after another), it’s not horrible. (*2) The new jacket design will be along any day now and I’ll post that when it arrives.

Office THREE

So: what am I doing now? Catching my breath. Sleeping a bit more than I have been. (That last slog was grueling in a way that I won’t attempt to describe.) Thinking about my next project and enjoying the anticipation of diving into that. (Because anticipation can be as pleasurable as the act itself, right?)

Oh — and cleaning up this mess. You’ve now idea how good it feels to organize the chaos and move the crates to the basement when I’m finished. I’m looking forward to going paperless for the next project, but I’ll miss the concrete, in-my-hands, tangible act of packing away hours and weeks and years of reading and thinking and writing.


*1: I switched to a Mac ten months ago and my life got SO much easier, organizationally speaking — although as noted above, the documents I was able to read digitally rather than on paper or on microfilm soared, too. For my next project, I’ve already begun amassing a strictly digital database. I’d like to get away with no more than one plastic crate full of photocopies.

*2: PLEASE do not zip off a comment or email telling that I REALLY need to self-publish so that I can have full control over the entire work. I know all about it, okay? I don’t want another brouhaha like the last time I commented on the virtues of working with traditional publishers. Here’s what many people don’t get about “traditional” publishing houses: They subsidize intellectual work in a way that almost no other group or institution does. This new book took six years to research and write. My publisher in effect served as my patron while I worked on the project.

4 thoughts on “What It Looks Like At The End

  1. Time to get into the 21st Century MO! Instead of “organizing the chaos and moving the crates to the basement when finished” you need to scan them into computer and disc away or put it in iCloud. You don’t need to keep it in paper form now. AND yes, there are companies out there that will do it all for you. Congratulations on finishing another part of the American past. It will be an interesting read, and I’m sure while I read I will hear your voice and humor.

  2. Oh, I’m DEFINITELY aware of the 21st century possibilities of not having so much paper around. BUT: when I started this six years ago, I didn’t have any choice. (Short of using a camera and taking photos of every single document…) That’s how much things have changed in the past four or five years. And I don’t plan to keep all this paper. Most of it’s going to the trash, because the sources they document are now digitized. Much of the rest I will scan.

  3. Research will *always* require some paper, and likely lots of paper, books etc.
    Once you’ve found the document/item you’ve been looking for.., who wants to fiddle with a scanner!
    Great Job! Can’t wait to place my order with Amazon!

  4. I’m so glad to hear you say it took you 6 years to research your book. That’s how long I’ve working on mine. I don’t think people realize the heavy responsible of proving the thousands of facts that go into a history book. I agree with how much things have changed while I have been working on this project.


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