In the past two weeks, I've done the following:
Continued working my way through Donne's sermons
Re-read old notes on Donne's polemical prose
Read a couple of articles on Izaak Walton's Compleat Angler
Read a couple of articles on early modern science and manuscript culture
Made some revisions to an essay on Merchant of Venice
Thought about Foxe's Acts and Monuments
Thought about All's Well that Ends Well and Jacob and Esau
Looked through some notes on Browne's Religio Medici
Read the first book of Bede's Ecclesiastical History
In case it's not clear, most of those things aren't related to one another. I find myself working on five or six discrete projects, but none in a sustained way. It's possible that this is just procrastination from the primary task I intended to focus on--that Donne chapter--but I'm also finding, for the first time in my life, that I'm enjoying doing a million things at once.
As I've mentioned before, I prefer to be a monotasker, especially when it comes to my scholarship: I like to focus on a single project until it's done (or, at any rate, until I reach some logical or necessary stopping point). Short-term projects can interrupt, but when they do, I focus on that project until it's done, and then return to Project A. The idea of having a whole bunch of half-written articles--or conference papers that I hadn't yet developed into articles, or extensive research that hadn't even graduated to the point of being a conference paper--has always seemed about as appealing as having a bunch of cars up on blocks on my front lawn.
But here I am, having fun. I'm not sure if this is just the result of being on sabbatical and having more freedom to dabble and draw connections across disparate texts and subfields (because it turns out? most of the things I've been doing secretly DO relate to each other!) or if this, too, is a way my temperament has been shaped and changed by academia. Scholarly time is slow and long, and maybe if we're to be sustained by this life--after the monomaniacal focus on What Comes Next that determines one's progress through grad school and tenure--we need lots of disparate projects, pleasures, distractions.
I'm just theorizing, and who knows whether I'll continue to feel this way. But it's good to realize that the world won't stop spinning if I take my eye off it, and to know that I'll probably even finish most of the projects I've started. . . eventually.