Monday, February 12, 2007

Turned upside down

I had been working with a professor at Berkeley on a book project--trying to fix up the transcript of some seminars given 40 years ago by one of his colleagues. We had nearly finished working through all the seminars and doing our best to correct all the errors and clean up all the rough spots.

And then he finds, in a box in his office, the full set of notes made by his colleague for the seminar as well as an annotated copy of the original transcript from which we had been working.

Suddenly, instead of being almost done, we're just at the start all over again--or if not at the start, at least we've got a significant piece of work ahead of us.
But we're both excited about this reversal. Whatever the inconvenience to ourselves, we know that our final result will be much better.

You can't really predict what is going to happen over the course of a long project. And one cannot let the thought of future work deter one from the work that is present now.

Which is easy for me to say--there is nothing big riding on the completion of this book project.

I had an inquiry from a potential client, and I fear that the best thing for her is to rewrite completely. The project would be better, and it might even be the quickest path to completion, but that is a frustrating and difficult thing to accept. And she has deadlines, and academic fees and a degree waiting at the end of the line.

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