An eye for details. Sometimes I wish I had one. Normally I wish this when I am at the tail end of writing a journal article and am cross-checking in-text citations with the reference list. Sitting with a hard copy of my paper, I munch on the end of my pen and wish I was important enough to give this type of task to someone else. No reference checker magically materializes and I realize that I need to do it all myself. This kind of mechanical checking of details, of checking there are the correct number of spaces between headings, that the right things are in italics and that the font size is consistent – all these bore me stupid. Important parts of the process they may be, but they take all the joy out of writing for me. While working on a paper I can get caught up in the process, I get trapped in the way ideas flutter in the air and then assemble on the page, I even like the way the writing can be difficult and challenging as when I get to the end there is a feeling of accomplishment. I can stand back, look at my paper and smile.
Then I realize, it’s not over yet. There is still the proofreading, the redrafting and finally, horror of horrors, the reference checks, and the checking of proofs should it be accepted to a journal. It’s like being forced to wash the dishes after preparing a rich, decadent feast – surely there is someone else who can do the clearing up?