Voice of Reason  stopped by my office today. She has been, like me, working on an article project (though her work is about three to four months more advanced). And like me, she's apparently been producing a lot of words with very few great thoughts to hold it all together.
We've been talking a lot about our frustrations with writing, and how they're producing doubts about the new projects we're working on, respectively. The underlying theme to all these discussions is: "Why can't I be smarter?"
And somehow, over this weekend, we both realized an important truth: the first book project -- the one that made us feel like we knew something -- didn't start out as a first book. Before that, it was a dissertation, and an article or two along the way. And before that, it was three years of research, reading, fumbling, and following dead-end roads. The lesson here is that bumping into walls is part of the process. And it's part of the process that you have to repeat with every damn thing you write.
"You mean I have to keep feeling dumb every time I do this?" I ask myself. Well, yes. And that's going to suck. But knowing that it's part of the process is kind of like the doctor saying, "Now, this is going to hurt." It doesn't stop it from hurting, but it lets you know that the pain is normal, expected, and most of all, temporary.
 To those new to the blog, Voice of Reason is a friend, colleague, and former neighbor who reacts to situations with an equanimity and grace that I stand in awe of. She is who I want to be when I grow up.