I’m a little more than half way through my eerily quiet, intense sabbatical: day 36, and just 27 to go. My wife is happily tromping around India, first the north, now the warmer south. While she looks at cave paintings and pornographic ancient temples, my circumstances at home are ideal for the hardest and most focused work I’ve ever done (plus a lot of exercise). Many whole days have passed without even a phone ringing: long meditative stretches of precise, relentless productivity, something most writers never get to try.
I’m churning out dozens of painfully overdue updates and upgrades to PainScience.com, untangling a mind-melting knot of loose ends — papers I’ve been meaning to cite since 2012, factual errors pointed out to me in 2011, clarifications I promised a customer in 2010, a glitch I noticed in 2009 that I’ve seen every few months ever since and thought, “Is that still there? I should really fix that.” Now I finally am!
So it’s going well, and it’s also exhausting and humbling. I’ve been forced to admit my limits and officially kill off some major projects I truly thought were non-negotiable (as recently as Thanksgiving). Now they’ve been wedged into my bulging Never Gonna Happen file, between “learn Español” and “get my black belt.” Apparently writing and maintaining several books and a bunch of articles is enough for one career! If I plan to knock off the 80-hour weeks for the second half of my life, that is. Starting in 27 days.