It should not be much of a surprise that I write papers. Lord knows I have blathered on about being a scholar in the academic humanities enough in this webspace to let people know that I am one. (Admittedly, there is a bit of Polonius here. Perhaps I do protest too much.) And we all know, of course, that one of the things those who study the academic humanities do is write papers. Nobody who matters will read them, of course, because nobody who matters bothers with the academic humanities--because they do not matter. But we write them, anyway.
I wrapped one up yesterday and sent it off for what I hope will be publication. (If it gets picked up, I will certainly crow about it.) And I was relieved to do so; there is great satisfaction in sending something out. Doing so offers the chance for greater renown, greater demonstration to those few who actually look at such things that I am producing work, that I am working to add to the collected body of human knowledge and to cement human understanding of who and what we are. It thereby improves my chances of finding stable, steady work, however slightly. And it clears space in my agenda and in my mind for other work to get done--of which there is always more.
From late in my undergraduate work through my graduate and past (and it is strange to think that I am approaching two years past my PhD), I have worked on papers not only because I have been assigned to do them by my professors, but because I have had ideas that I have felt needed explicating. Notions of what things mean and how they make their meaning emerge in my mind, and, like Minerva, they scrape against the inside of my skull until they can find release. (The implication that I am like Jupiter is inaccurate, I know. It is not from my hands that peals of thunder come, nor is my marriage unhappy. It helps that it is not to my sister...) Working on them eases pressure in my mind, and finishing them so that they can be sent off or delivered is...I am not sure that there is a comparable physical act. I hope what I produce is better than excretion, but I know that it is as nothing against the birth of a child. It is something on which I will have to think more.
That I have been thusly eased does not mean that I am done. There is, as I note, always more work to be done, and I have already gotten started (or resumed work, rather) on the next paper I am set to deliver. It is going well enough so far, and I hope that it will continue to do so. I do not relish the idea that it will get backed up, for I know the vexation of it--not unlike a sinus problem, actually, although simultaneously less physically painful and more distracting.