When I set up this blog last spring, I drafted four posts that would appear at the quarter-marks of my sabbatical (no matter what I was actually doing at the time), each of them illustrated with one of the Thomas Cole series Voyage of Life. (By Cole’s figuring, my sabbatical has moved from Childhood to Youth, which I like, since it looks like I still have lots and lots of time left. Away with you, Angel of Death!) Happy coincidence: part 2 commences just as I have crossed an important milestone in the project. Yesterday I finished my second complete edit of the draft manuscript. That’s thirty 5,000-word chapters in 23 full days of writing/editing (with very unruly end notes). I now have a very tall stack of papers next to me, the first and only time the whole thing in all its glory (?) will look like that.
Editing has been just swell; but now it’s time to face some scary stuff. After years of drafting, outlining, researching, writing, editing, and being worried about it, it’s time to start the proposal for publishers. But in the words of the great Aragorn, today is not that day. Today is Thursday before a three-day weekend, so we will wait until Monday to start the process of selecting a slender portion of the Great Work to send with the proposal (and then eventually get around to winnowing this ridiculous pile into something more reasonable). Today, I practice a bit of strategic procrastination: planning to sketch out a paper, drawn from the ms., for a conference in June. The term “strategic procrastination” is my spin on John Perry’s “structured procrastination,” which basically means, have some little, not-horrible things to do when you can’t (for whatever reason) move forward with your big project. It’s a great concept, swiped from his interesting blog, which you should check out. That is, if you’ve got nothing better to do.
Cole’s big blustery four-part Voyage of Life is at the National Gallery.
PS This is my 50th post on this site. Sort of a nice & noteworthy milestone.