It’s not a word. This I fully realize. Nonetheless, I also realize that despite the fact that there is no such word, the non-word in question insistently describes that which I am meant, if I am to be a success of the most lucrative kind as an academic, to have.
I have to date never managed to have even brief periods of prolificity while working (or, as it were, claiming to work) in the humanities, social sciences, or human sciences. There was a period during which I wrote and edited a small pile of technology books, but that sort of prolificity isn’t particularly laudable to my eye and generated a fortune exactly the size of something tremendouly small indeed.
This, to cut right to the chase, has to change.
The problem is that I’m not quite sure how to structure my attempts. The logistics are something of a bugbear as well. Should I start immediately to write papers by the pound? If so, what about quality? What, too, about time availability? Surely there are other things that I need to be working on as well? But then if papers are not the thing, what is? Blogging? That would certainly make me “one of the boys” amongst the hip young scholar set, but I’d hate to lose this more personal blog (I couldn’t possibly carry on two separate blogs, even with disparate subjects, since I’m nowhere near compartmentalized enough as a person) almost as much as I’d hate to share my unfinished work with others.
But if not papers and not blogging, then what? Novels? Poetry? Surely I jest. Of course I do. Monographs? A bit early for that. Just a bunch of research notes, then? That, too, is likely to put my blogging out of business to some extent (not that it would be a tremendous loss to anyone but myself), but more to the point, it would also not really rise to the definition of the term that launched this little gem of a post, namely, prolificity.
Apropos of all of this, the germ of the inspired is a tricky character indeed. There are times, often when riding the subway, walking one brown dog, sitting to take in a speech, or even brushing teeth when it suddenly seems as though there are so many ideas and words bursting forth from my person that I couldn’t possibly keep up with them all even if I had a keyboard and display in front of me then and there.
And generally I don’t, then and there.
But even if I did, I’d likely be right and would fail to keep up with my fnges, and the thoughts would dissipate like so much smoke in a dizzy of wind.
Then there are the other times, when I sit down to “be productive” (something of a minor station along the way to prolificity, near the start of the journey) and have absolutely nothing to say, not a thought in my head apart from the vague desire for popcorn and a yen for the scent of fresher laundry than I happen to be wearing at the moment.
Is there something in between, and if so, will I ever experience it?
It sometimes seems to me as if I am a radical wrong-speed-thinker. I always and without fail think, cognize, experience inspiration at a speed and volume that are not conducive to prolificity, whether the mismatch in question is one of too-littleness or one of too-muchness.
And then of course there are days like today, which interrupt what appear to be a veritable launch into the outer space (or is it into the sunny Carribean) of productivity. For days I have been inspired, driven, working night and day (though it somehow still felt as if I wasn’t working nearly hard enough). Plans were made and projects launched immediately thereafter; parallelism overtook me and checks appeared in clusters to the left of task-lists; documents saturated with ideas and outlines poured from my fingers with a kind of gritty regularity and became natal projects in their own right.
And then I woke up today and somehow did nothing but walk the dog, groom my nails a little, buy a meal at a restaurant, take a nap, and watch television.
The death of inertia is a tragicomic thing to watch, especially once you reach what has been referred to as “a certain age” (this, I presume, meaning adulthood), and the fascinating thing about inertia (at least when using it in the metaphorical—that is to say, cognitive and behavioral—sense) is that it possesses little or none of itself.
That is to say, without any particular sense of irony, that interia can damn well turn on a dime. At my age, this is no longer shocking, though it remains a deep and meaningful mystery that I don’t ever expect to resolve.
This post has been one more step along the path to prolificity. Would that it were mile 900 in the thousand mile journey of some repute, but I rather fear it’s something more like step number 13.
Meanwhile, it’s raining outside, and before that, the park was conspicuously empty, as were the sidewalk seats at local restaurants. This on a saturday night.
Fall, it would seem, is here.
Such is the happy rhythm of… well, damn it, of us and of things and of today and of whatever else is fresh yet also reassuring. It is fall and it is good to be alive.