I have finished A Thing. Not just finished, but submitted. Consummatum est.

It’s a short thing. It was supposed to be a quick-and-dirty, if not quick-and-easy, distraction from other writing, something I thought I’d throw together in ten days when I realized a deadline was barreling down the tracks at me. I thought that since I’d been working on this material (on and off) for five years, it should be easy to put together a conference-paper length note just to have something out there; and if I missed the deadline, then I would go back to the Current Project briefly before beginning to read for my R&R (speaking of deadlines barreling down upon me).

Forty days later . . . . Well. Now I know that when I work out how long something will take me, I should then multiply by four. At least, that’s the factor when I’m teaching three classes and dealing with intermittent panic about which project to procrastinate work on.

But now it is done, and sent, and no matter what happens with it, I have submitted one piece of unsolicited, original, scholarly work this year. The R&R (gods willing and the creek don’t rise) will make two. The poor Current Project . . . all I wanted was to get it into shape to send to a couple of friends last summer this fall over winter break? There might be a window in which I can get back to it before I have to turn to revising last year’s Kalamazoo paper for publication (thanks to another deadline).

Deadlines are very helpful things. I wish I didn’t need them to be set by other people. I know people who set and meet their own deadlines. Why can’t I be one of them? Maybe it has something to do with that factor of four. Still, if I recognize that factor, I can work with it. And cutting it back to a factor of three seems like a worthwhile goal.

It amazes me how suddenly a horrible mess can gel into what looks like a tidy, professional piece of writing. A week ago I was still pulling my hair out. There were bracketed notes to myself all through the Thing, and although my writing group said to cut everything after page 5 (and most of page 2), I wasn’t sure. In the end, much of pages 5-8 returned, page 2 came back as conclusion, the bracketed notes became formatted endnotes, and now my mess is a Thing of Beauty. If the Thing returns, I’ll find someone else who will appreciate it.

But let’s hope the place I sent it will be its Forever Home.


2 thoughts on “Sigh of relief

  1. I feel as though I'm channeling you. Conference paper from 5 years back that an editor had said he wished he could publish–nice distraction from other projects–"how hard can it be to get it ready?–35 days later, I now know how hard it can be. Except for the writing group, which I don't have, I totally hear you.

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