I’m supposed to be brainstorming my next writing project. Instead a flood of ideas for a sequel to my last novel are pouring into my brain, demanding to be written down, examined, and expanded.
In my Coursera classes, I’m trying to grasp the concepts behind the properties of planets and what determines their temperature but the physics is making my brain jump sideways and backwards and all I can do is scribble the word “albedo” over and over in my notebook and think about what a pretty word it is.
When I take a lunch break and watch Neil degrasse Tyson talk on COSMOS about the life cycle of stars, rather than interrogating the concept of a hypernova all my brain wants to do is get weepy when Tyson pontificates in his deep, calming voice about how we’re all made of stardust.
Much as I try, I can’t seem to wrangle my brain today.
COME ON BRAIN! WE HAVE WORK TO DO.
Or I could just drink tea and listen to Tyson and doodle the word “albedo” all day.
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It has been an interesting summer so far. The disconcerting global weather, the awe inspiring New Horizons Pluto flyby, the start of the run-up to the presidential nomination race (by turns fascinating, depressing, and hilarious), the tumult of the EU-Greece drama, and so much more. It makes you feel hopeful and discouraged all at once.
The world whizzes on, but here in New York things are slower in the summer. Quieter. The city always seems to slumber this time of year. Even with the tourists, New York depopulates in the summer. With so many people seeking refuge up the coast or out on Long Island, those of us who remain have the place to ourselves. Granted, our prize is sticky, hot, and often quite smelly, but there’s nothing I love more than New York in the summer.
It’s a wonderful time for writing, too. One can hunker in the air conditioning during the middle of the day, typing like mad, then venture out for inspiration in the evening. Walks in the park with a melting ice cream offer time for contemplation. There are lectures (I went to one last week on facing the engineering challenges of searching for Earth-like planets around other stars) and classes, museums, shows, concerts in the park, or just strolling the city’s neighborhoods, watching the human drama unfold.
It’s like New York takes a Valium this time of year and everything feels possible but not too urgent. Dreamy.
The temperature is over 90 out there today, so I think I’ll pull the shades and write. But later…later there will be ice cream on the stoop while I watch the city go by.
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And by that, I mean my current novel project.
First, a small celebratory dance <dances around apartment until cat bites her>
Ahem. Alright. That’s out of the way. What’s next?
One of the things I most enjoyed about working on this project was delving into the mind of an outsider trying to find their place in society. I’m pretty sure I’m not finished with this idea and that it may play some role in the plot or theme of my next project.
I also want to explore some of the ways society will change under the twin pressures of time and technology. I like the hopeful idea that we’ll one day succeed in making it off this rock and out into the vastness of space. So, that’s where I’d like to venture in my next novel.
Before I get too far down this road, though, I need a primer on the universe. My knowledge of the solar system, galaxy, universe, and our place it in is pretty rudimentary. So I’m brushing up by taking a few courses on Coursera. I’m enrolled in an AstroTech course from the University of Edinburgh, one on the Origins of the Universe from the University of Copenhagen, and a class called Imagining Other Earths from Princeton. All for free! I love Coursera!
All the traveling I did early in the summer impeded progress on these classes, as did finishing Project Awesome. But now that I’m in Brooklyn full time for the remainder of the summer and Project Awesome is off my plate…it’s time for some learnin’!
Stay tuned. I’ll no doubt share some of the fascinating things I come across in the classes, as well as my evolving ideas for the next novel project.
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