“The road to hell is paved with works in progress.” – Philip Roth
Borrowing from the title of that 1969 movie, “If this is Tuesday this must be Belgium” I feel the equivalent this morning: “If this is Monday it must be blogging time.” Even though I’ve settled into a five-day blogging routine, each Monday morning I have to summon my internal Marine drill sergeant to get my mental troops marching. I just don’t jump up, raring to go at the start of the week, even though it’s gorgeous weather here, cool but a refreshing break from the early heat we’ve had for the last week. I take personal responsibility for bringing on this minor cold snap, since I performed the semi-annual changing-of-the-vents this weekend. Each year after I switch the vents for the home climate system we get a cold or hot spell, guaranteed. Doesn’t sound significant, except that if the upstairs vents are open and we have to run heat, wallpaper peels off the walls from the simulated Arabian desert created by our over-sized heat exchanger. Toasty, but not inhabitable.
Last week was Philip Roth’s birthday, and while listening to Writer’s Almanac I heard that opening quote. Always one to enjoy a clever twist of words, I thought this quote hit home in a number of ways. All writers have various projects sitting there waiting for activity or conclusion, and after a while they become silent road markers to perdition if left unfinished, constantly reminding us of our failure to continue or conclude their wondrous ideas or concepts to fruition. Maintaining a blog is a well-attended, never-ending work in progress.
Blogging is enjoyable, although I could debate against that on any typical Monday morning after too-little sleep and too-much relaxation over the weekend (not sure how you can have too-much relaxation except by comparison). The obvious secret to managing works in progress (wips) is to enjoy what you’re doing. The not-so-obvious secret is to stay on top of wips so they don’t die or grow stale from neglect.
If you think I’m leading up to some sage advice on managing wips, let me end the suspense now. I practice the time-tested squeaky-wheel theory of wip management: ideas most promising (i.e., won’t get out of my head until I flush them, either literally or figuratively) are embraced and worked. The others lie dormant, in hopes of improving with age. Unlike fine wine and wisdom, such improvement rarely happens, at least on my wip list. I’d love to have software capable of age-based deletion and I could set this feature for a 5-year fallow. If I haven’t flushed the idea during that time, then it deserves a nice burial and a ceremonious burning of the old, longer wip list leading to a newer, shorter one. Maybe then I’ll run out of paving material and make that road to hell a little harder to travel.