On December 31, I handed in my manuscript for ONE INCH FROM EARTH. From start to finish, genesis of an idea to a 180,000 word manuscript, took four full years. The first eighteen months were spent researching and writing what became a book proposal. After Geoff Shandler of Custom House bought the book in a preempt, it was off to the races. I’ve never worked so hard on anything in my life. The final two months, in particular, nearly killed me. I spent years fantasizing what I would do the moment the manuscript was completed. Here is what I did. I hit “send” on the email to Geoff and Stacia Decker, my agent, and promptly—literally within the hour—fell into terrible illness. My family and I had a celebratory dinner at a local favorite restaurant, and not even the champagne could rescue the event. I was absolutely sick and exhausted, as though my body had been holding it all in, worked for me, fought diligently to keep me going, succeeded, and promptly surrendered. I survived, more or less, though it was tough going for a few days.
Once edits conclude and the book is released in 2020, I hope the world agrees that it was worth the effort. Now I begin work on the next proposal. Long book projects are very lonely endeavors, but ONE INCH FROM EARTH was worth every second of it. My next one will be pretty exciting, too.
My freelance work fell largely by the wayside over the last couple of years, though recently of note: I embedded with the OSIRIS-REx team during the final approach of Bennu for the first spectral observations, and wrote about it for Scientific American here. (This is part of my ongoing coverage of OSIRIS-REx, one of the best missions NASA has ever launched.) Lee Billings gave the piece a sublime edit. I also wrote a nice piece for Smithsonian on sample return missions. Jay Bennett there was also a dream to work with, and I will be covering the 2019 Lunar and Planetary Science conference in March for him. That’s a good update of where I am at today. I will hopefully have more to report later.