Despite the social event yesterday that significantly truncated my working hours, I did make some headway before I had to leave--and I put in a reasonable stint today. I'm still feeling idiotically anxious: it's fascinating to watch the swings between "I'm doing great; no need for worry" and "OMIGOD! I'll never, ever, ever get enough done!" I suspect that some of the panic arises simply because I'm in some strange way addicted to panic. It does provide an adrenaline rush, after all; perhaps in that sense my period panics are actually beneficial (albeit uncomfortable), insofar as they provide energy and impetus to work. I am fully aware that I don't have a "neutral" gear: I'm either doing the sea-cucumber impersonation or I'm racing full tilt; the only in-between is when I'm trying to transition from one state to the other, which--as I've noted many times--is a process very much like a semi gearing up or down: it takes a good stretch of road and a fair amount of time to get from "balling the jack" (as my aunt would have said) to something approaching calm. Using characters from A. A. Milne for their metaphoric value, I am a cross between Rabbit and Piglet, with little touches of Roo thrown in.
The big news of the day actually has nothing whatever to do with my own work: thanks to one of the valued members of my cheering squad, I have been alerted to the fact that tomorrow there will be an interview with Le Guin on BBC Radio 4 (which broadcasts online), and this Sunday, an adaptation of The Left Hand of Darkness will begin airing: http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b05pkpgg. I've listened to the previews: one was deeply satisfying; the other frustrating. There's also an odd and highly intriguing little video clip (which is how the thing was brought to my attention): http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p02nlytc. I immediately recognize the scene from the novel, but I have the same problem with the visuals that I have with the audio. They've got one of the main characters just flat out wrong. I've probably annoyed Le Guin no end by writing rather lengthy e-mails to her about it (not because of what I have to say, but because of the length of the e-mails: she's a busy woman)--but I'm very protective of her work in general (and almost every adaptation has been wildly, abysmally wrong), and since I'm so deeply immersed in this particular work, I'm especially protective of it.
Interestingly enough, I recently was in conversation with someone about my project and was subjected to some pretty heavy pressure to write a screenplay of the novel. The pressure was well-intentioned, motivated by a desire for enthusiastic publication and reception of my project--but it demonstrated how little people know about, well, anything other than their own little fields, usually. First, despite my years as an actor, I have absolutely zero idea how to write a script of any kind, especially a film script. Second, although I grant that I know at least two film-writers, but I'm not certain that either of them would be ready, willing, and able to do an adaptation of a novel (and that novel in particular). Third, even if one of those film writers wanted to take it on, there is the whole issue of who owns the rights. Fourth, even if the rights could be secured and the script written, I have absolutely no way to get such a script seen by anyone who could get the film made. Finally, even if all of those things were to happen--there's still no guarantee that the film would do justice to the novel. I'm absolutely not the person to be involved in any of those steps: when it comes to Le Guin's work, I'm a devotee and a scholar. Period.
Still, it is pretty nifty that the Beeb is doing the adaptation right now: that raises visibility for the novel and might make my project a little more visible (and desirable for publishers) as well. And I will indeed listen to the interview and to the adaptation--and will try to approach the adaptation with an open mind and a desire to be persuaded that it works. After all, Le Guin herself approved of the stage version, which had the same "problem" with the main character that I see in this new adaptation, so....
In terms of the impact on my work, I will take some time to listen to the interview with Le Guin tomorrow: maybe I can glean something of value for the project, and even if not, it's just a delight to listen to her being brilliant and unassuming and humorous. I imagine that means I'll probably work from home tomorrow, at least for a while. I just need to set that timer so I remember to get up and move around occasionally....
And I plod along. Don't know whether I'll switch gears tomorrow and finish up that last bit of the annotated bibliography or keep on with the glossary--or maybe really shake things up and work on the themes stuff--but sufficient unto each day is the whatever I end up doing.
Now, I'm beginning to slow things down: I titled the post with a saddle metaphor, so instead of saying that I'm downshifting, I'll say I'm slowly reining in, preparing for an (intentional) dismount.