Academic, Culture

Words to live by:

I’m very paranoid about any metric of productivity. One person’s wasted time is another person’s productivity. For most of my life people saw me doing the things I liked to do and said, you have too much free time on your hands.” I’ve decided that when you hear that, it means you’re doing something right. I hear it a lot less now that I’ve got a novel out and work at Harper’s Magazine, which is a job that carries some prestige. But that doesn’t make sense, because I’m doing the same things I did before anyone else took interest. External metrics are pretty useless. I like to think about Allen Ginsberg, when he confessed to his shrink that all he wanted to was write poetry, and his shrink said well, why don’t you?” If you measured life by productivity, who would pick up a guitar? Besides, I’m happiest when I’m narrowly distracted—when I’m working on a task and I find it interesting enough that the rest of the world goes pale and I can really focus and explore.

Now I don’t feel so bad about spending so much time on this and this when I know there are so many other things I need to be doing for a traditional academic career …

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