06 August 2006 Filed in: Darwin News
The Smithsonian in Washington, DC
Charles Darwin has gone into a state somewhere between suspended animation and a coma. While I am continuing to work on the nearly completed manuscript of Looking for Darwin, I have fallen victim to my inherent inability to say “no.” That characteristic, as imbedded in me as my fingerprints, has gotten me into more trouble in my life than I care to mention. My publisher considers it a weakness. At times, as I have waited for a hangover to pass or someone to leave, I’ve considered it a failing.
In this particular case, the temptation came heavily disguised as success: I was asked to write a book on penguins for the Smithsonian. Writing gigs like that don’t drop from the sky too often (the Smithsonian is to biology what Ferrari is to Formula One), but there was one catch: like a six year-old demanding attention, they wanted it NOW!
For the last little while, then, I have been up to my eyeballs in feathers and feeding chases; the characteristics of a few species rather than the origins of them all. But fear not, in a month or so it will all be over and I will be back to writing solely about Darwin as I finish the last chapters of Looking for Darwin: I have already said “yes” to the completion date suggested by my publisher.