Monday, March 27, 2006

What'll I think in 30 years?

Not much to write here these days, I admit. I've been working. Had a great weekend with the family... hence the silence on the weekend. I've been on campus today, plugging away. Analysis: it's always quite consuming, since it requires a great deal of concentration. The departmental computer lab here on campus (where I work) is relatively quiet. It's spring break, so only the stalwarts (or holdouts, depending) are here, but mostly working, not gossipping. I contribute as much to talking now, but we're all pretty good at letting each other work.

I've been reflecting a bit lately on how several senior (or retired) scholars I know speak almost without exception with a bit of embarassment about their earliest publications. Naive is the word I most often hear them say about some article they penned thirty or forty years ago. And, I've realized the important part in this is not that they are ashamed of what they wrote at the beginning of their careers, but rather that they had long, distinguished careers despite of (or perhaps because of) their willingness to just get out there and say something.

In my worrying about not sounding like an idiot, or thinking of all possibilities or confounds to my arguments, I've been holding myself back from just testing the waters of an idea. Perhaps the main difference between potential and accomplishment is simply writing a conclusion, being willing to draw some circle around a collection of thoughts, and accepting that thirty years from now I'll most likely think it naive.

So, I've been excited by some smaller projects, short, not too ambitious, but different and quirky in my own way, forcing cross-disciplinary conversations, and making them seem inevitable. I've got two of these underway, and a third (which has been mulling around my mind for years) will be the next one. Each of them is fun, and likely more appealing (at least more accessible) to a broad audience than some of my BIG projects. They'll be good as conference papers, or invited lectures, or articles. I'm just going to do it, and get them done. Find a conclusion, and draft it up. And if the ideas are rejected from conferences, or journals, then I can work on them some more. But, I'm feeling pretty good about this right now. I think they'll fly.

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