I just finished the first real draft of my next book, The Organic Manifesto. I had the idea for it almost exactly one year ago today (I remember because it was my father’s birthday, March 27th). A year doesn’t really seem that long when I look back and see all I’ve learned and done in that time, and where the weird and wonderful magical road of creation has taken me.
I get lots of ideas. Many of them do come to fruition. But the more of them I bring to life, the more I realize how hard it can really be, and how much work it takes, to make ideas real. It’s not for the faint of heart. But there’s nothing like seeing them come to life.
What I love most about the journey of creation is that it takes you down roads you don’t expect to travel, roads you’d never find without the effort. Here is just one little story from the past year that shows what I mean…
Since my book is about organic foods and farming, I felt compelled to hold some focus groups with chemical farmers so I could truly understand how they feel about what they do, and what they think about organic. The timing had me traveling to Iowa in February. Not really the greatest time to travel anywhere, let alone Iowa. But you can’t really understand chemical farmers without going to Iowa—and February is a good time to talk to farmers, since they aren’t as busy as during the planting season.
Anyway, the focus group was amazing and I thoroughly enjoyed my trip. I was in the Des Moines airport when someone recognized me. We had met at the Slow Food Nation Festival in San Francisco, and had a mutual friend. Even though I was trying to slog through the Farm Bill at the time (again, for research), he caught me reading the People country music special and eating Pringles potato chips. He was on his way to Washington DC to meet with the Secretary of Agriculture. I gave him my card and told him I’d be happy to share my focus-group research with the Secretary.
A month later, I got an email from the USDA inviting me to come to Washington for the People’s Garden Initiative (see last week’s blog post). So not only did I get to hear the Secretary tell us about his new organic garden on the front lawn of the USDA, I got him to autograph my copy of the Farm Bill (sorry, Rodale Library, I’m not returning it EVER!). I’ve met tons of celebrities but that was the first autograph I’ve asked for since Eddie Merckx—the original Lance Armstrong before Lance Armstrong was Lance Armstrong—stayed at our house, and I got to drive him around, when I was 16.
Anyway, my point is none of this would have happened if I hadn’t had an idea. But even more important, none of this would have happened if I hadn’t made the effort to make my idea real. Who knows if my book will be a success. All I know is that so far, the journey is totally worth the work.