The phrase I most often hear in casual conversation with friends and new acquaintances who are familiar with my work invariably is, "What are you working on now?"
Goes on all the time. If I am "working on" something I usually tell folks the basics about what it is. More often than not, however, I am actually not "working on" anything. I have learned from experience that the vast majority of non-fiction researchers/writers, like myself, are not continually writing books and that there are often long gaps between publications. Such is the case with me. I developed three publications in 2009 alone--the history of Ashantilly, the reissue of my Darien Journal of John Girardeau Legare by the University of Georgia Press, and High Water on the Bar. That was a pretty tall order for one year so I took 2010 and most of 2011 to catch my breath, except for writing a book review or two for the Georgia Historical Quarterly, and doing a lot of lecturing and teaching classes.
Much of 2012 so far has been spent in research and writing an analysis of land ownership and settlement patterns on Sapelo Island in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, a paper that I hope will be issued by the Sapelo Island Reserve later this year.
The development of the Sapelo paper led me to the conclusion that I really needed to consider doing a work on a new book that consolidates, or synthesizes, my coastal Georgia historical research over the past 30 years or so. So a new project has been born, and for the last few weeks I have been hard at it. The new book will comprise a mix of new and original research as well as revised versions of a number of my short studies (booklets and such) that have been issued over the years and are no longer available, plus recast Introductions to some of my edited journals some of which have been out of print for a while. Reissuing this material will make it available perhaps to a new audience who might not be aware of some of these writings, as well as "dusting off" and updating some of my earlier studies--sometimes (invariably) with new, and different, conclusions! It should be fun.
So now, I can honestly reply to those frequent queries, "What are you working on now?" with, "Actually, I am working on a new book as we speak!"
Your thoughts and comments are welcomed, as always, and thanks!