Wednesday, October 05, 2005

And this

show of spirit photography at the Met is the other thing I must see in NY later in the month, I really can't wait (the slideshow there gives you a taste of it, there was a good one in the Times last week too). It even counts as professional research, in a way, since I've got a whole spirit photography sequence in my novel.

In other news, I belatedly realized that I was trying to do a million too many things at once and made the tough decision to postpone novel revisions until early November. Which is frustrating but sensible--I've got a number of other projects due later this month, including an essay on this for one of these (only it's Fielding not Austen) and working out exactly what I'm going to say for this (both of these must be done by the end of October) and figuring out my title if not my actual argument for a January talk on this at Yale and dealing with an article that got a "revise and resubmit" letter over the summer from a major journal in my field. In fact now that I'm listing all of these things, I see it's no wonder that I haven't been working properly on the novel revisions--madness, really, to have even tried.

The great lesson of academia in particular and of writing more generally is to pay attention to what your body's telling you about work--if you can't settle down to something (and in my case if you fall ill with a respiratory virus that takes you out of action for days & leaves you stewing about work undone; the last time this happened, actually--not the last time I got sick but the last time I got sick in a way I could only understand in relation to a work impasse--it was on a truly massive scale and I horrifyingly got pinkeye and severe bronchitis as well as an evil cold and sanity-threatening cough, this was January 2004 but I still have fond memories of the clarity of the revelation the illness earned me: I had to have a few months of full-time fiction writing. Common sense also told me to keep the $100+ eyedrop antibiotics and asthma inhaler so that the next time I wouldn't even have to go to the doctor; the pinkeye was so bad I seriously felt like a complete pariah, it would have been better not to have to set foot out of doors), it usually means you haven't yet thought through exactly what you need to do in what order of priority. I ritually relearn this lesson every six months or so; it's never enjoyable (I pride myself on always being able to take a deep breath & pick up the piece of work at the top of the pile and plunge in without getting daunted by the size of the heap, so it is humiliating as well as painful-in-the-regular-way-of-not-doing-work), but it strikes me with new force each time.

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