A co-worker asked me how my current project was going, and I said it was a slog. He apparently hadn't heard of this word, but a few days later he asked me how the slog was going. I had to smile.
I've been in the slog of late. I'm in the deep middle of a large project, where everything seems to be taking a long time. I've long since passed the learning curve, and am now making suggestions and modifications on my own, but there's still a lot of work to be done. A lot of work.
The slog reminds me of that expression "the fog of war." (I like that slog and fog rhyme.) Anything not related to the project feels too much to take on. I can't muster the energy to sit through a movie, much less read the newspaper. I'd rather sit quietly, strumming my guitar, brooding about work. In the slog, the project pushes out all other thoughts.
It's helpful when there are team members on the slog. That's the case with my current project. Even though my technical counterpart works in Chicago (our client is in Benton Harbor, Michigan) it's great to have someone to relate the pain to. The slog can be a lonely place. No one in my house can relate to the issues that bear down on me.
I still get to leave work "on time", but as the cruel joke goes: "I have a lot of job flexibility; I can pick any 60 hours of the week to work." When everyone's in bed, I'm pounding away on the parts of the project that can benefit from "quiet time." Procrastinating is actually something I put off until the weekend: I work most week-nights.
I should be grateful to have a slog. There's a lot of good people out there without a daily grind. But when you're knee deep in the muck, you can't help but think you're the only person who can handle this particular work, these particular details, this particular client. You can feel secure in the slog, so that when you do find yourself between projects, it can be disorienting.
Tonight though, I dream about being in between projects. I dream about having a brain less full of client-specific minutiae. I dream, but my time's up: Back to the slog.