Monday, March 14, 2011

Deflection and Procrastination, Or Here We Go Again

Some may have noticed a distinct lack of narrative fiction on this site lately. (Whether anyone thinks this is a bad thing is another issue.) There’s a reason for the dry season, and it has to do with the usual culprit - time - but not in the usual way.

I’m a habitual procrastinator. Like many of my fellow travelers, I suspect, I’m aware that I’m not making progress on Project A, but my mind likes to fool me into thinking that this is not a big deal because I’m actually making great progress on Project B. It’s all good, right? Except that Project A needs doing, and Project B is really just an excuse, such as listening to a podcast that in theory could be work-related (and thus not a complete waste of time) but in practice is indeed just time filler. Dabble in Project A, get a cup of coffee. Dabble some more, play some Solitaire. Read up on using Markdown. Dabble again and chat with a colleague. Is it lunch time yet?

An efficient use of time would have gotten Project A done long ago, with plenty of time in the nooks and crannies of the day to outline or write - or, heck, just finish existing drafts - items of more interest, to wit: the continuing adventures of life in the Steamlands. That hasn’t happened.

Project A - and if one thinks that this entire post is just a form of therapy combined with an additional method of procrastination, one would be correct - involves a collaborative project of Scholarly Research with the aim of having such published in a Peer-Reviewed Journal as though it is a matter of Great Importance. Hence the capitalization. The collaborative nature means an obligation to a co-author, so I can’t just put the thing in the great Drawer of Unfinished Ideas and move on. And, in fact, the point of the paper is a good one.* The problem is that the execution seems slapdash. My co-author is a close friend of mine, so I don’t want to be as blunt as I might otherwise be, and he seems to alternate between understanding that we have perhaps bitten off just a tad more than we can chew comfortably and thinking that it’s all brilliant. Given these conflicts, the part of my brain responsible for getting this done has decided to respond by going on strike. In reaction, the part of my brain that believes it’s best to act like a responsible adult has decided that it will not allow me to finish any Steamlands adventures. We’ve been at an impasse for some time now.

This will be done soon, and one day I’ll read over the published version and think that it’s not too bad. Until then, I need to get back to working out some of the kinks in the current draft. Well I will shortly, but first I have a few errands to run.

*When I was young(er) and (more) foolish, I used to have greater enthusiasm for these Scholarly Works. I’d write this or that, sometimes with Long Words but more often with Complex-Looking Equations or Nice Tables, send off the manuscript to the aforementioned Peer-Reviewed Journal, and anxiously await the response. I came to realize that it wasn’t a great feat to get a paper published. There are a lot of journals with many blank pages to fill. The problem is that there aren’t a great many good ideas, and so the journals are filled with dreck. I’d like to think that I never wrote dreck, but I’m not sure I had any really insightful pieces either. My output slowed to a trickle. If I had something to say, I said it, but most of the time it seemed like a better idea to keep my metaphorical mouth shut.

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