It is so true as to be a cliché: the writer’s worst enemy is the blank sheet of paper. All the wonderful technology in the world hasn’t changed that; every time I set out to write something, the first thing that confronts me is a blank editor screen, which Microsoft has even graciously designed to look like a sheet of paper, untouched and threatening. I try to stare it down, but Word for Windows doesn’t have an auto-wilt feature. The blank page stares right back at me, fearless, implacable, cold, mocking. And, worst of all, empty.
This week, I fear that the blank-sheet-of-paper-surrogate will have at least a partial victory. Vaguely Sinister Wife and I are both busy writing our papers for the next IEEE Intelligence and Security Informatics conference, with a Friday deadline. My paper will be entitled something like “Rational-Choice Deterrence and Israeli Counter-Terrorism”; sadly, I’m not allowed to publish it anywhere other than the conference proceedings, which come out in a book that you won’t exactly find at your corner bookstore. (If the final result looks halfway decent to me, perhaps I’ll put up a version with enough changes to get around the copyright problems.)
We’ve had months and months to get these papers ready, so there’s been plenty of time and there’s absolutely no reason for there to be a last-minute rush. Yeah, right. Both V.S.W. and I are adrenaline junkies, and so the last week is always the time to get ourselves in gear. (Actually, V.S.W. will probably have her paper ready by some time Thursday, a day or more before the last second. I consider this highly neurotic, albeit useful – as it means I get to use our computer at home for the final bits.)
In the mean time, I won’t be able to do much blogging this week. My massive and loyal public – which, as far as I’ve been able to determine, would comfortably fit into an average-sized American family car – will have to survive without me.
Of course, a glass of warm milk and a couple of milligrams of melatonin right before bedtime are almost as effective as reading my blog…