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Approximations and Estimates

One of my favorite Mark Twain quotes concerns the entirely logical result of projecting the then-current rate of the Mississippi River's decline from the Gulf of Mexico into the past.

“In the space of one hundred and seventy-six years the Lower Mississippi has shortened itself two hundred and forty-two miles. That is an average of a trifle over one mile and a third per year. Therefore, any calm person, who is not blind or idiotic, can see that in the Old Oolitic Silurian Period, just a million years ago next November, the Lower Mississippi River was upwards of one million three hundred thousand miles long, and stuck out over the Gulf of Mexico like a fishing-rod. And by the same token any person can see that seven hundred and forty-two years from now the Lower Mississippi will be only a mile and three-quarters long, and Cairo and New Orleans will have joined their streets together, and be plodding comfortably along under a single mayor and a mutual board of aldermen. There is something fascinating about science. One gets such wholesale returns of conjecture out of such a trifling investment of fact.”

I am reminded of this today because I calculated that if I write just 1000 words a day from now to October, I'll be done with the first draft of my novel. I've been back from the workshop not quite a week, and October is already looking a little like Twain's estimate. I've written just 4000 words since Sunday. Maybe I'll be able to catch up this weekend.

Comments

( 1 sutra — Your wisdom )
mckitterick
Jul. 21st, 2003 12:01 am (UTC)
lies, damn lies, and "scientific" projections
Man, if you keep up this Pohl-ish pace, you'll have your novel done in time for the New Year! Go, Wolf!

Best,
Chris
( 1 sutra — Your wisdom )

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