PBQ staff editor Amy Weaver shared this article with me from the Chronicle of Higher Education, http://chronicle.com/temp/reprint.php?id=zs61txc4kwr4kd1q1rjbfxt41952gdmf
a discussion of Procrastination, Genius and Mediocrity, and Leonardo da Vinci.
It’s a thought-provoking piece, to be sure, but I’m wondering if too many concepts are conflated: am I procrastinating about not writing my memoir collection because I am using time instead to grade student papers, read submissions to PBQ, or schedule a reading?
The author, W.A. Pannapacker also brings up mediocrity vs. genius and fear of success, but the overriding theme: “Academe is full of potential geniuses who have never done a single thing they wanted to do because there were too many things that needed to be done first:” is exactly what confuses me—how is doing those other things procrastinating? Does not the minutia of our existence demand to be handled first? I mean, the students will demand their grades, authors who submit to PBQ will demand a response, etc.
What is the way out of mediocrity and into genius, but not out of a job?
Will we “waste our time” of we try to answer that here?
About a month ago I participated in a promotional event for high-school seniors who are interested in coming to Drexel, but have not yet committed. Our job was to present our department in a truthful, but positive light. At one point in the day’s activities, I led the students in a mock editorial session, where we read “submissions” to PBQ, and then discussed them as our editorial board does, then voted on the work. The potential students loved the session and I was greatly impressed with the caliber and specificity of their comments. Their parents, watching from “the peanut gallery,” became so engaged in the discussion that several times they chimed in, apologizing as they did so, but unable to help themselves.
When the session was over I had one of those rare, lovely moments: I thought, “I rocked that session. Damn, I’m a good editor and teacher.” The mini-workshop had highlighted both of those skill sets and I was proud. The energy in the room was palpable and I was inundated with students and parents wanting to continue the conversation.
I came home from such a great afternoon and waiting in the day’s mail was a rejection slip.
So, I thought, “Oh, ok. What I am meant to learn today is that I am not a writer, but a teacher and an editor, and I should be grateful for that; that I have something I know I am good at.”
I related the above anecdote to our own dear, lovely Marion Wrenn, and she simply said,
“Don’t you see what you’re missing? The amount of time you put into being an editor and teacher far outweighs the amount of time you spend writing.”
So—I think the question I’m really throwing out here is, short of expanding time itself, how does one prioritize the non-immediate? How does one not procrastinate away one’s genius?
Did I just waste half an hour?