Monday, September 29, 2014

Never-ending projects

I'm in a serious funk right now about the manuscript that has been "on the verge" of submission since my daughter's birth 16 months ago. I made good progress on it in July and August by taking advantage of a little extra free time from work. My goal was to submit it in late August on the last day I had earmarked for this task. There are four coauthors on this paper: Me, Theo, Dr. K, and Sam. Theo and I had been corresponding about it all summer. Sam and Dr. K hadn't commented on it in over a year, which I didn't realize until I asked them if they could give feedback in a week so that I could submit. I felt like I had some momentum, it was getting close, and I just wanted it done. The perfect is the enemy of the good for this project, and we're way past the point of diminishing returns on time spent word-smithing. Sam replied that he needed at least two weeks. Totally understandable, but very unfortunate for my timing. I completely lost steam.

September has been a very busy month at work in which I worked a lot of evenings in order to prevent myself from being the rate-limiting step. Now it's six weeks later, and I finally forced myself to look at the comments from Sam and Dr. K. Nothing huge, but it feels so overwhelming. I'm trying to force myself to do a little bit of work on it each night, and tonight all I'm doing is skimming the comments, writing this blog post, and generally being cranky about it. I've got to get this damn thing published, archive the data, and archive the data for its sister project that is realistically never going to be published as a manuscript. There are just so many things I'd rather be doing.

My actual job is going great. They don't care at all whether or not I ever publish this manuscript, which doesn't help me get them done. It doesn't count as work there (and I've got more than enough to keep me busy anyways), so I've got to carve out time at home on evenings and weekends.

While I'm on the topic of never-ending projects, there are some loose ends of a project from FIVE YEARS AGO that I tried to help tie up before we left Big City, but it didn't come together. Now I've got an eager colleague who wants to finish it (she's ISO tenure!), but we're hung up by the unreliable colleague who is now the only one left in Big City who can complete the crucial step.

This project *will* end. This project *will* end. This project WILL END!