Are there any survivors of the Winter Writing Group who want to report on progress at this point? Leave a comment!
On my other online writing group, the Stupid Motivational Writing group run by Jonathan Mayhew (private blog, invitation only), someone asked a question about the MMP that forced me to articulate exactly what I'm doing and why. That is, not what I'm arguing but why the project needs all this non-writing activity. That was amazingly helpful. After explaining, I said, "I get a certain amount of other people encouraging me to do what I consider would be a crappy job ('you don't have to have the last word, just start the conversation'), which makes me doubt my approach. But basically I want to do what I think is right, good, and thorough, and it's less wearing in the long run to do the job right in the first place than it is to try to do the rush job and then feel unhappy about it."
Actually, and this is one of the things that was slowing me down, this is now the second place, since I've already given two conference papers on this material and thought at first that all I had to do was blend them together. But they were both based on a preliminary survey of the data; they were the fast-and-dirty version, long though I struggled over them.
I don't want to be a conversation-starting scholar. There are plenty of people who do and are; they are happy being talked about and cited, even when their work is getting corrected, even when it's being repeated as if it were Gospel although at some point some more obscure scholar who isn't part of the fan group has shown them to be wrong. That's neither my style nor my training. I don't imagine there will be a huge conversation about the MMP. I don't have the writing-personality to start one, and the skills required to do this kind of work are too rare to get a lot of followers. What I can do is take the time necessary to make my article solid, accurate, and reliable. So it's already taken more than two years. If I do it right, it will still be useful in 50.
And that's the kind of scholar I want to be.