Less than three hours ago, I finished a good, solid draft of the MMP’s companion-piece.

It comes in at a bit over 6000 words, the suggested length of an article for the journal I’m aiming at.  It needs a lot of grooming: adding line numbers (where I was working from the manuscript) and folio numbers (where I was working from the edition), turning vague notes to myself into proper footnotes, and putting it in the format of the journal’s style sheet.  But the hard part, the thinking part, the working out the argument and making it all coherent, that is done.

It’s true I got a lot done earlier this spring and before I got Here.  All the same, most of that was painfully chipped out between other pressing obligations.  It feels quite different to have the luxury of time.  Not just time to work, but also time to relax, to let the back of the brain work, instead of filling up the back-of-brain with the hideous lists of must-do-this, don’t-forget-to-do-that.  Three days.  Three days here was all it took to finish this piece.  Two of those days were spent reading and taking notes.  I took 1800 words’ worth of notes.  Today those 1800 words and a couple of older paragraphs generated 1100 new words for the actual essay; then I moved another 1000 or so words in from the conference paper; and that was that.  And when I say “days” what I really mean is 2-3 hours a day, an amount that you’d think I could find easily enough at home.  But I can’t, not on a regular basis, and even when I can, so many other things (work and non-work) press on my attention.  In a way, although I feel considerable sympathy for Sir John’s present frazzlement, it is a relief to know that dealing with the combination of our fur people and a job drives him, too, round the bend (and he’s better at planning, organizing, and concentrating than I am).  So it’s not just me, not that I am so hopeless at dealing with life and time; as a family, we really have taken on a lot with this particular batch of cats and other choices about how to live.

They are choices.  And I’m not sure I would do anything differently (I’ve listed my reasons for commuting elsewhere).  But it surely is useful to make the comparison between this summer and my normal life.

In the meantime, I have celebrated with a nice lunch in a fifteenth-century building (so appropriate) and a bit of mostly unnecessary but nonetheless useful and satisfying shopping, including pricing Champagne.  Now I am going to prepare class for tomorrow, and then go feed some ducks and gloat a little more.  And tomorrow, the grooming will begin.  If I can get this essay submitted within a week, I’ll let you know which bubbly gets the nod for the celebration.

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3 thoughts on “What a difference a brain makes

  1. Congratulations! How great to have a draft, and also how smart to have a lovely champagne reward waiting for you when you submit the article.

  2. “Not just time to work, but also time to relax, to let the back of the brain work, instead of filling up the back-of-brain with the hideous lists of must-do-this, don’t-forget-to-do-that.” That’s something that only being away can give you, so congratulations on this mental space and on your article.

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