42 out of 410 days: Thoroughness

I picked up a set of sermons on my way out of church yesterday.  Muncie has been preaching a series on authentic living this summer.  He does a very good job of bringing nuance to the two sides, positive and negative, of PRIDE, amongst a number of other useful insights.  [Reading sermons on the subway does not, by the way, attract nearly as much attention as Roman History.]

Many vices and virtues can be equally two-faced.  Thoroughness can be a paralyzing standard for an academic endeavor and yet most necessary for the validity of the results. Chasing obscure bibliography, the fear of finding one key piece of scholarship post production, endless combing of catalogues and databases can result in rock solid peer-review worthy work, but also grind the process to a snail’s pace.  Searching a database can be easier than actually articulating words what one thinks.   I indulged in so much collection of bibliographical references over this weekend that the Inter-Library Loan Librarians must be cursing me this morning.  A disgusting number of requests were filed. In due course they will need to be incorporated into the book, or not, as the case may be, but waiting on their arrival or spending more time on the bibliography will not actually move the book forward or make the final product stronger at this point.  I’m usually a ‘measure twice, cut one’ type of writer.  Why compose a sentence until one can write the footnote that guarantees the accuracy of the statement?   This makes writing slow, nervous work.  The author of another book in the series wrote to me that he was trying to draft chapters: “very very fast (aiming at 750 words per day), in order to get something down on paper which I could edit”.  Ah editing.  Being open to self critical revision.  That is certainly a virtue I could due to cultivate.   So we’re going  to try something like that this week: just writing from the notes on file and the ideas in my head.   If this blog has proved noting else, its that I don’t suffer from a lack of words.

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