It's done. Printing and binding were completed yesterday. Ten copies. And as always at the completion of a project I feel a moment - no more - of exhilaration, and then a weight of "What's next?" There is always a next, as I have observed repeatedly, with more material coming into my hands with daunting regularity, each item crying out to be addressed, made accessible, made into a book. My last entry here reflected on the making of a list of projects completed and projects in process. I made the list and over the ensuing week added projects to it which require my attention at some point - perhaps not immediately. I added target dates for completion, usually hopelessly optimistic. But I had a target of early 2009 for the Mary and Walter book, and I've made it.
Every project involves compromise. A balance has to be found between completeness, which for perfection would mean the project was never finished, and adequacy, which lacks perfection but at least gets DONE. Sometimes the last scrap of highly necessary content is in someone else's hands - or skills - and I must wait for it, or for the skills to come to my hands. But the Mary and Walter book is done.
There is always a point of trepidation, of hesitancy just before I say, "Enough." Is the adequacy - adequate? Should I strive more energetically toward improvement, should I give the project more time? The perfectionist would deplore the notion of "adequacy" and take a very long time indeed to move past adequacy and into a higher realm of achievement. But time is against me. I'm working on my third cancer, and while I am told the cancers are not likely to limit the life expectancy I could otherwise expect, nevertheless they have given me a sense of urgency about finishing what I have started. And cancers aside, I can feel my cognitive sharpness blunt day by day.
Adequate will have to do.
And anyway, the other day, from a second cousin in England, I received praise for a previous completed project, the Henry Thomas Wake book. She called it a "magnificent manuscript." I think "adequate" is going to have to do when it can garner that kind of praise! Since very few of my books are WRITTEN, and most of them are ASSEMBLED, I cannot take credit for the magnificence of HTW's own writing but at least I will utter an "aww shucks" for the assembling.
And on to the next. I started this post several days ago, before the Walter and Mary book was finished, and in a blitz of effort since, I have finalized the content of Letters to the Ranch and need only to organize the illustrations before printing the 15 copies. In addition, Uncle Walter's memoirs called to me, and I am at page 100 (of 275)of what I hope will be the final edit. There will be more on this project in another blog.