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Although I wear a number of interrelated hats - blogger, boxing correspondent, occasional broadcaster, features article writer, environmental consultant - I self-identify primarily as a book author, specifically as an author of books on science and environmental matters.

This is in a way unfortunate, because I have not published a book since 2011 (and the writing of that book was largely completed before the end of 2009). There are a couple of reasons for this: One, and it's a good reason to offer, is that I've been too busy to get to work on writing another book. My freelance work - my regular gigs for Discovery, ESPN, and HBO; my more sporadic writing for the likes of the Washington Post Magazine; and my longer consulting contracts for, among others, Upwell, the Ocean Conservancy, and the International Fund for Animal Welfare - have kept me gainfully employed to the extent that I (a) haven't had the time or mental space required to work on a book; (b) have provided me with enough income that I need not worry about writing a book and have even been able to turn down the opportunity to take an actual, real job (even if I am a long way short of being able to afford the Tesla of my dreams).

The second reason is that I simply haven't been able to come up with an idea that I have found sufficiently compelling and also practicable. I envy those who seem able to concoct and churn out title after title; I can not. But for the last year or so, I did feel as if I had settled on a suitable topic. Inspired initially by TV commercials in Alaska campaigning against a putative mining project in Bristol Bay, I planned to write a book on salmon. Among other things, I loved the way that salmons' life cycles are the nature of life writ simple - you're born, you swim around a bit, you have sex, you die. Plus, I was impressed by salmon's insufficiently-appreciated importance to many cultures, as exemplified, for example, by the fact that concern for its survival is likely the one thing in Alaska that can go head-to-head with mining interests and win.

I sounded out my publisher; I talked with my agent. I began work on a proposal. But something was niggling at me. Folks in Alaska and the Pacific Northwest loved the idea; people on the east coast looked me with puzzlement. I found myself having to explain why it would be an interesting book - which is never a good sign. If you have to work on the justification, and even then generally elicit only a "huh" rather than a "coooool," then you're in trouble. (cf, for example, early reaction to my decision to write a book on polar bears.) And I realized I shared that underwhelmed reaction. Even before I had started writing it - before I had made much headway on the proposal, even - I was relegating it to the second or third tier of bibliographic canon, a 'marking time' title until I could get to grips with a more stimulating title.

But writing books - or at least writing mid-list nonfiction books - is rarely a lucrative enterprise. Its reward is primarily a creative enterprise; if I wasn't feeling the muse move me, then what was the point?

The final straw came when, after months of virtual non-movement on the proposal, I set aside the Christmas and New Year holiday as the chance to clear my desk and really get to grips with it. And yet, day after day, I'd add maybe a sentence or two while whiling away my time on Twitter and staring at the clock, wondering if it was time to drink yet? Finally, I decided that, while salmon is an interesting subject for a book and one well worth writing about, I didn't want to be the one to do it. I simply didn't have it in me to spend 18 months shackled to it.

So I put the proposal aside, never to be completed. Farewell salmon, I barely knew thee.

We move on. The search continues.
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