#IWSG: Putting Science Into Science Fiction

Hello, friends!  Welcome to this month’s meeting of the Insecure Writer’s Support Group, a blog hop created by Alex J. Cavanaugh and co-hosted this month by Joylene Nowell Butler, Chemist Ken, Natalie Aguirre, Nancy Gideon, and Cathrina Constantine.  If you’re a writer and if you feel insecure about your writing life, click here to learn more about this amazingly supportive group!

I write science fiction.  That’s the only genre I’ve ever wanted to write, and I doubt that will ever change.  But when I was younger, I kind of hoped I could get away with writing Sci-Fi without really understanding science.  And you know what?  Maybe I could have.  I’ve read plenty of good Sci-Fi stories that went a little wishy-washy on the science.

At some point, though, I made the decision to do my research.  I made a commitment to learn the sciency stuff so that I could write better Sci-Fi.  Doing that research has helped me in more ways than I anticipated.

Suspending the Reader’s Disbelief with Science

I have a touch-and-go attitude about putting science in science fiction.  Sci-Fi doesn’t need to be 100% scientifically correct about everything all the time, but if you touch on a scientific fact now and then, it adds credibility to your story, and it makes it easier for the reader to suspend their disbelief when you start making stuff up.

Alternatively, if you make a laughably unscientific mistake, like describing the sound of an explosion in outer space or having a character see a laser blast coming straight toward her before it hits her, this will break the reader’s suspension of disbelief real quick.

Over the years, a few fellow writers have told me not to worry so much about scientific accuracy.  The average reader, they claim, won’t know if I get a science fact wrong.  And maybe they’re right, but science fiction readers are not the average reader.  It’s important to know your audience, and if you write science fiction, your audience includes a lot of people who are more scientifically literate than the general population.

Science if Full of Writing Prompts

I think I have a pretty active and vivid imagination.  I asked my muse, and she agrees with me about that.  But as imaginative as I may be, the universe out there, as science currently understands it, is far weirder and wilder than anything I could have dreamed up on my own.

Did you know birds recognize the constellations and use them to navigate?  Because they do.  Did you know there was a seventy year period of time when all the sunspots mysteriously vanished from the surface of the Sun?  Because that happened.  Did you know there are naturally occurring nuclear reactors on this planet?  Because there are!  Could any or all of these random science facts be used as writing prompts?  Yes.  Yes, they could.

Just about every time I do my science research, I find new ideas for stories.  Or, if I don’t find a totally new story idea, I find something new I can add to a story I’m already working on.

Using Science Role Models as Writing Role Models

If you ask most writers who their role models are, they’d probably point to people like Hemingway or King.  Those are perfectly fine role models, of course, but as I’ve fallen deeper and deeper down the science research rabbit hole, I’ve discovered curious parallels between the life of a writer and the life of a scientist.

The way Albert Einstein solved complex scientific problems with his imagination (for example, by imagining what might happen as trains and elevators accelerated to the speed of light), or the way Marie Curie kept doubling down on her research into X-rays, “uranium rays,” and other forms of radiation (which ultimately killed her, of course, but I still admire her relentless dedication to science)—these people are my role models now, in addition to people like Tolkien, Asimov, or Roddenberry.

Whenever I’ve struggling to write, whenever I’m stuck on some story problem that seems unsolvable, I think about people like Einstein or Curie.  I think about how they kept plugging away at the problems in front of them until they found solutions.

I’m not going to tell you that if you write science fiction, you must do your research.  I hate that “if X, then you must do Y” kind of writing advice.  Every writer is unique.  Every writer has their own approach to writing.  Do whatever feels right to you.  It is absolutely okay to make yourself the exception to the rule.

But doing my research has helped me in ways I never expected.  So if you’re not already doing research for your stories (Sci-Fi or otherwise), then I’d say its worthy giving research a try.

Thanks for reading, friends!  I look forward to chatting with you in the comments!

State of the Blog

Hello, friends!

Once again, sorry for not blogging in a while.  Today, I want to give you a quick update on what’s happening with me and my writing.

In October, some stressful things happened and derailed all my writing plans for the month.  But even before October happened, I felt like I was stuck in a writing rut.  I’d write hundreds of words per day, adding up to thousands of words per week, and yet I still felt like I was making absolutely no progress.  So my muse and I have agreed that it’s time to take my writing in a new direction.

Some decisions have already been made regarding Tomorrow News Network and other projects that I’d previously been working on.  Other decisions will be decided soon.  But I do know that my research process is going to stay the same, and this blog will continue to play a key role in how my research process works.

The #1 best way to learn is to try to explain whatever you’re learning to other people.  Doing that can reveal where your knowledge is strong and where it is still kind of hazy.  The discussions we have in the comments sections of my blog posts have been invaluable to me.  And also, I honestly do appreciate it when someone in the comments tells me that I’ve made a mistake.  Those discussions are invaluable to me, too.

My blogging and social media presence will be somewhat sporadic for the remainder of 2022, but I expect things to get back to normal in January of 2023.  Sciency Words will return on January 9th, and I hope to stick to a schedule of one to two posts per week after that.  The new direction I’m taking with Tomorrow News Network has already led me to some surprising and new (or at least new to me) science facts, which should lead to some fun conversations in the months to come.

So thank you, friends, for reading, and I look forward to talking with you more very soon.

#IWSG: Involuntary Writing Breaks

Hello, friends!  Welcome to this month’s meeting of the Insecure Writer’s Support Group, a blog hop created by Alex J. Cavanaugh and co-hosted this month by Diedre Knight, Douglas Thomas Greening, Nick Wilford, and Diane Burton.  If you’re a writer and if you feel in any way insecure about your writing life, click here to learn more about this amazingly supportive group!

At some point, every blogger has to say “sorry for not blogging in a while.”  This is then followed by the usual list of excuses: illness, family stuff, trouble at work, etc.  Today, it’s my turn.  Sorry for not blogging in a while.  I got sick (bad mayonnaise, probably), then there was some family stuff, plus a whole lot of trouble at work.  As I result, I didn’t have much time for blogging, or for any kind of writing, all month long.

Sometimes life forces you to take a writing break.  It’s frustrating for two reasons.  First, there’s the involuntary nature of this sort of writing break.  And second, even when life does settle down again, it takes time to get back into the rhythm and flow of writing.  Today, I’d like to share a few of the tricks I use to help myself bounce back from an involuntary writing break.

Drawing My Muse: As regular readers of this blog know, my muse is very real to me.  She started out as just another character in a story, then she evolved into something more.  I like to have a picture of my muse nearby whenever I do my writing.  So when I’m trying to bounce back from an involuntary writing break, my first step is to draw a new picture of my muse.  Like this new picture:

Re-Reading My Story: If my involuntary writing break interrupted me in the middle of a writing project, odds are I cannot just pick up again right where I left off.  So I’ll go back, re-read however much writing I got done before the break, and try to immerse myself in that particular story world once more.  This may take some time.  I may end up spending a few days—or perhaps a week or more—editing and re-writing stuff rather than working on new material.  But eventually, I’ll remember what I was trying to do with my story, and I’ll be able to make forward progress once more.

Writing an IWSG Blog Post: And lastly, another great tool to help me bounce back from an involuntary writing break is to write one of these IWSG posts.  I’ve made a commitment, both to myself and to the group, to do this once every month.  It’s a strong enough commitment that it keeps my writing habits alive, even in stressful times, and it’s always helpful to hear from fellow writers, whether they have advice and encouragement to offer, or whether they merely want to commiserate over the struggles we all face from time to time.

So do you have any tricks or techniques that help you bounce back from an involuntary writing break?  Let me know!  Seriously, please tell me.  I think I have a pretty good writing recovery strategy in place, but I’m looking for ideas to make it even better.

#IWSG: In Defense of Regrets

Hello, friends!  Welcome to this month’s meeting of the Insecure Writer’s Support Group, a blog hop hosted by Alex J. Cavanaugh and co-hosted this month by Tonja Drecker, Victoria Marie Lees, Mary Aalgaard, and Sandra Cox.  To learn more about this amazingly supportive group, click here.

I knew a girl once who lived by the motto “no regrets.”  She was rather insistent about this.  She insisted that no matter what happened, no matter how badly things turned out, she would never, ever have any regrets.  And… well… I don’t want to go into any details here, but… this girl seemed to keep making the same mistakes over and over again.  Regrets aren’t necessarily a bad thing, you see, so long as they help you learn.

Next year, I’ll be turning 40, and I have a lot of regrets.  A few too many, perhaps.  My biggest regret has to do with being queer.  I came out of the closet a few years ago.  I regret not coming out sooner.  You don’t know how heavy of a burden it is, carrying around a secret like that, until you finally put that burden down.

My second biggest regret—which is really not one big regret but a constellation of interconnected little regrets—has to do with writing.  So many opportunities came my way when I was younger, but I didn’t take them.  Sometimes it was fear that held me back.  Other times it was pride.  Whatever the cause, I missed out on a lot of things.  Maybe those things wouldn’t have worked out anyway; I’ll never know.

For those of you who are familiar with Star Trek, I sometimes feel like that alternate timeline version of Picard who never rose to the rank of captain and who was, instead, stuck as a junior grade science officer his whole life—all because he was too scared to take a risk.

I have other regrets, too: times when I hurt people, times when I let other people hurt me, times when I should have spoken up, and times when I really, really, really wish I’d kept my mouth shut.  I could wallow in all these regrets, of course, or I could treat them as lessons learned.

By acknowledging my past mistakes, I’ve learned to be kinder.  And when others are unkind to me, I’ve learned to have the self respect necessary to walk away from the situation.  Should I have come out of the closet sooner?  Yes.  But I’m out now, and I’m never going back.  And as for all those writing opportunities I missed… the real topic of this Insecure Writer’s Support Group post… well…

Despite what they say, opportunity does not strike once in a lifetime.  Opportunities keep cropping up over and over again throughout our lives.  It’s never too late.  Sure, I missed out on some opportunities when I was younger, and those specific opportunities are never coming back; however, there are other opportunities in front of me today.  And today, I know better than to let fear or pride or any other silly excuses hold me back.

I’m not going to end this post by asking if you have regrets or by saying “please share in the comments below.”  That would be super inappropriate!  But I do hope this was useful and encouraging to somebody, and if so I’d love to hear that.

P.S.: I do hope this post is helpful to somebody, but this is also my way of giving myself a pep talk.  I’m about to try a thing.  I’m about to take a risk.  It might not work out, and that’s fine.  If it does work, you’ll be hearing more about it in the future.  The important thing right now is that I’m trying.

NASA’s DART Mission: Rest in Peace

Hello, friends!

As you probably know, NASA’s DART spacecraft deliberately rammed itself into an asteroid on Monday.  This was a test.  It was only a test.  The asteroid in question (named Dimorphos) was never a threat to us.  Someday, though, another asteroid may come along… an asteroid that does threaten us… an asteroid that could end life as we know it.  The DART Mission was intended to test out ability to defend ourselves, should a large and genuinely threatening asteroid ever show up on our doorstep.

I spent Monday night watching NASA TV’s livestream of the DART Mission.  Those final images from DART’s navigational camera were amazing!  I never really thought about what it would look like to crash into the surface of an asteroid.  Now I know exactly what that would look like.

Anyway, today I thought I’d share a few things that I learned—things that I did not know before—while watching NASA’s livestream, as well as the press conference that was held after the mission was over.

The Space Force: So I knew DART launched almost a year ago, but I didn’t know it had launched from Vandenberg Space Force Base (I also didn’t know Vandenberg Air Force Base had been renamed).  I still think the whole Space Force thing is cringy, but at least the Space Force did help do something to actually defend our planet.  So that’s cool!
DART’s Solar Panels: In addition to testing our planetary defense capabilities, the DART spacecraft also tested a few new space technologies.  Most notably, DART was using a new, experimental solar panel design.  DART launched with its solar panels rolled up into cylinders, then the solar panels unrolled once the spacecraft was in space.  The new design apparently weighs a lot less than traditional solar panels, and anything we can do to lower the weight of a spacecraft helps make spaceflight less expensive.
Dimorphos’s Shape: This one really surprised me.  Apparently nobody knew what Dimorphos looked like until those last few minutes before impact.  The most high-res images we had were still not high-res enough to reveal the asteroid’s shape or any useful details about its appearance.  As a result, DART had to be programmed with some sort of machine learning algorithm to help it figure out what it was supposed to be aiming for.

While the DART Mission was a success, it’ll still be a while before we know exactly how effective it was at moving the orbit of an asteroid.  Telescopes up in space and down here on the ground will continue monitoring Dimorphos as the dust settles (both figuratively and literally).  Still, as a citizen of Planet Earth, I do feel a little bit safer living on this planet.  I mean, we still have a lot of challenges we need to overcome, but that asteroid problem?  I think we’ve got that one covered now.

So did you watch NASA’s livestream on Monday?  Did you learn anything new, either from the livestream or from other news sources covering the DART Mission?

P.S.: If you missed the livestream, click here to watch it on YouTube.  Or you can click here to watch the press conference that was held afterward.

Sciency Words: The YORP Effect

Hello, friends!  Welcome to another episode of Sciency Words, a special series here on Planet Pailly where we talk about the definitions and etymologies of scientific terms.  In today’s episode, we’re talking about:

THE YORP EFFECT

Picture a windmill.  As the wind gets stronger or weaker, the windmill spins faster or slower, right?  Okay.  Now replace the windmill with an asteroid orbiting the Sun, and replace the wind with sunlight.  Over long periods of time, sunlight can make the asteroid spin faster or slower.  Sunlight can also change an asteroid’s axis of rotation.  This is known as the YORP Effect (not to be confused with the Yarkovsky Effect).

Definition of the YORP Effect: In astrophysics, the YORP effect is what happens when reflected and/or absorbed sunlight generates “thermal torque” on an asteroid.  Reflected sunlight exerts a very small (but non-zero) amount of force on the surface of an asteroid.  Absorbed sunlight radiates away from the surface of an asteroid as heat, exerting an additional small (but non-zero) amount of force.  Due to the irregular shapes and material consistencies of asteroids, it’s hard to predict exactly what this thermal torque will do, but over long enough periods of time it can dramatically change an asteroid’s rotation rate and axis of rotation.

Etymology of the YORP Effect: The term was coined in 1999 by American geophysicist David Rubincam.  The YORP Effect, as we currently know it, combines the previous research of Ivan Yarkovsky, John O’Keefe, Vladimir Radzievskii, and Stephen Paddack.  YORP is therefore an acronym of the names Yarkovsky, O’Keefe, Radzievskii, and Paddack.

This all started with Ivan Yarkovsky and his Yarkovsky Effect, which we talked about in last week’s Sciency Words post.  The Yarkovsky Effect has to do with the way sunlight affects the orbital trajectory of an asteroid.  The Yarkovsky Effect was lost to science for a while, then it was reintroduced in 1951.  Shortly after that reintroduction, other scientists started wondering what other effects sunlight might have on an asteroid, which ultimately led to this idea of a thermal torque effect, which we now call the YORP Effect.

To be clear, the Yarkovsky Effect and the YORP Effect are two different effects—one related to an asteroid’s orbital trajectory, the other to an asteroid’s rotation rate and axis of rotation.  They’re caused by the same thing—sunlight—but they are two different effects.

In 2007, observations of an asteroid named 2000 PH5 helped confirm that the YORP Effect is real.  The asteroid had been monitored closely over the course of about four years, and astronomers found that its rotation rate was steadily increasing.  This increase could not be explained by gravitational interactions alone, nor by collisions with other asteroids or any other known effects.  Therefore, by process of elimination, only the YORP effect was left as a possible explanation.  Asteroid 2000 PH5 was subsequently renamed 54509 YORP to honor its help in confirming the YORP Effect.

And in 2013, an asteroid named P/2013 R3 literally YORP-ed itself apart.  The YORP Effect caused the asteroid to spin so fast that it started flinging chunks of itself away.  There may have been some previous collision or other catastrophic event that made P/2013 R3 more fragile; still, in the end, it was the YORP Effect that caused the final destruction of that asteroid.

So if you’re an asteroid flying around in space, be careful.  It may be fun YORP-ing and Yarkovsky-ing around the Solar System, but you don’t want to Yarkovsky yourself into hitting a planet, and you don’t want to YORP yourself into self-disintegration either.

WANT TO LEARN MORE?

P.S.: The DART Mission is scheduled to crash itself into an asteroid tonight at 7:14 p.m. East Coast time in the U.S. (also known as 23:14 GMT).  If you’re interested, NASA TV will be live streaming the collision on their YouTube Channel.  It would not surprise me if the Yarkovsky and YORP Effects are mentioned as part of NASA TV’s science commentary.

NASA’s DART Mission: Brace for Impact!!!

Hello, friends!

We are only a few days away from what is, in my opinion, the #1 most important space story of the year.  No, I’m not talking about the launch of Artemis 1.  And no, this has nothing to do with the Webb Telescope either.  I’m talking about NASA’s DART Mission.

For eons now, asteroids have been zipping and zooming past our planet.  Every once in a while, one of those asteroids will hit our planet, causing anywhere from minor to major to global mass extinction event levels of damage.  But on Monday, September 27, 2022, humanity will perform our first ever experiment to see if it’s possible to smack an incoming asteroid away.

The asteroid in question is named Dimorphos.  Dimorphos is not actually a threat to us, but if we’re going to perform an experiment like this, Dimorphos is a rather convenient target for target practice.  That’s because Dimorphos is not just an asteroid; it’s also a moon (or should I call it a moonlet?) orbiting a larger asteroid named Didymos.

When the DART spacecraft crashes into Dimorphos, the force of the impact will change Dimorphos’s orbit around Didymos.  It should be fairly easy for astronomers to measure this change, and thus it should be fairly easy to judge how effective DART was—and just how effective DART would have been against an asteroid that was actually threatening us.

Oh, and just in case anyone’s concerned that DART might accidentally knock Dimorphos out of its original orbit entirely and send it hurtling our way, thus ironically causing the very disaster this mission was meant to help prevent—don’t worry.  Didymos’s gravitational hold on Dimorphos is strong.  No matter what happens on this mission, Didymos is not going to let her little moonlet go (another reason why Dimorphos was selected as the target for this experiment).

So on Monday, September 27, 2022, there will be a head-on collision between an asteroid/moonlet and a NASA spacecraft.

An Italian-built spacecraft named LICIACube will be positioned nearby to observe the experiment.  A multitude of Earth-based telescopes will also be watching.  The European Space Agency also plans to send a follow-up mission (named Hera) in 2026, to check up on Dimorphos after its post-impact orbit has had some time to settle down.

Life on Earth has never been able to defend itself from incoming asteroids before.  Life on Earth has never had the ability to even try, until now [citation needed].  Obviously asteroids are not the only threat to life on our planet.  Obviously this is not the only challenge we need to overcome.  But the DART Mission is a huge first step.  A true giant leap.  No, DART probably won’t get the same kind of love and attention as Webb or Artemis 1, but still I’d say this is the #1 most important space story of the year.  This may be one of the most important science experiments in all of Earth history.

WANT TO LEARN MORE?

P.S.: I said life on Earth has never before had the ability to defend itself from incoming asteroids.  Technically speaking, we cannot be 100% sure that’s true.  Click here to read my post on the Silurian Hypothesis.

Sciency Words: The Yarkovsky Effect

Hello, friends!  Welcome to another episode of Sciency Words, a special series here on Planet Pailly where we discuss the definitions and etymologies of scientific terms, in order to expand our scientific vocabularies together!  Today’s Sciency Word is:

THE YARKOVSKY EFFECT

Imagine an asteroid orbiting the Sun.  Every once in a while, this asteroid passes alarmingly close to Earth.  If you’re familiar with Kepler’s laws of planetary motion, you may expect that scientists could predict, with pinpoint accuracy, where that asteroid will be years, decades, or even centuries into the future.  However, there are certain physical forces acting on asteroids that are not accounted for in Kepler’s laws.  One of those physical forces is known as the Yarkovsky Effect.

Definition of the Yarkovsky Effect: In astrophysics, the Yarkovsky Effect is a thermal force that affects the orbit of asteroids.  Like most planets, asteroids rotate; therefore, you could say that asteroids have day-night cycles.  During daytime, the surface of an asteroid absorbs heat from the Sun.  At night, the asteroid’s surface cools off by radiating heat out into space.  This radiating heat generates a very, very, very small amount of thrust.  Over time, that small amount of thrust can dramatically change the orbital trajectory of an asteroid.

Etymology of the Yarkovsky Effect: The Yarkovsky Effect is named in honor of Polish/Russian civil engineer Ivan Yarkovsky, who first described a similar “heat engine” effect in 1888, and who later published a pamphlet on the topic in 1901.  Yarkovsky’s work would have been lost to history, except that Estonian physicist Ernst Öpik recalled reading Yarkovsky’s 1901 pamphlet and reintroduced the idea to the physics community in 1951.

Yarkovsky was more of a science hobbyist than a professional scientist.  He had a day job working on railroads.  In his free time, he read a lot about science, and he did a lot of thinking.  He performed his own experiments, occasionally, and he came up with some interesting ideas that sound like utter nonsense today, but which must have made sense in the context of late 19th Century science.  Even the Yarkovsky Effect, as Yarkovsky originally described it, was tied up with a now defunct scientific theory called ether theory.

Still, even if his starting assumptions were off track, Yarkovsky stumbled upon the truth at least one time.  Asteroids do have “heat engines,” as Yarkovsky described it.  Asteroids do have these naturally occurring thermal propulsion systems, powered by sunlight, which can mess with their orbits.  The challenge for astrophysicists today is that the Yarkovsky Effect is kind of random (or if it isn’t random, in the truest sense of the word, then it may as well be).

Asteroids are irregularly shaped.  Sometimes, they rotate on more than one axis (I once read a paper that called this multiple axis rotation “chaotic tumbling”).  And in terms of mineral composition, asteroids are made of all sorts of crazy stuff.  Different minerals can absorb and radiate heat in different ways.  So the Yarkovsky Effect pushes asteroids around, but because of all the variables I just mentioned, it’s hard to say which direction the Yarkovsky Effect will push at any given time.  It’s also hard to say how hard of a push the Yarkovsky Effect might give.

Which is why missions to study asteroids—missions like the recent ORISIR-REx Mission or the upcoming DART Mission—are so important.  We may never understand asteroids perfectly, but we do need to understand them better.  There are so many asteroids that fly alarmingly close to Earth.  It would be nice if astrophysicists could predict, with pinpoint accuracy or something near to it, where those asteroids will be years, decades or centuries into the future.

WANT TO LEARN MORE?

I used the following sources to write this blog post.  The one at the bottom is kind of a long read, but it tells the fascinating story of Ivan Yarkovsky, a man who was nearly forgotten by history.  For those of you who are interested in the history of science, it is well worth a read.

Sciency Words: Stochastic

Hello, friends!  Welcome to another episode of Sciency Words, an ongoing series here on Planet Pailly where we take a closer look at the definitions and etymologies of science or science-related terms.  Today on Sciency Words, we’re talking about:

STOCHASTIC

There are no true synonyms, according to American writer Roy Peter Clark.  Sure, two words may mean basically the same thing.  Two words may be so similar in meaning that you could use them interchangeably.  But there will still be some subtle difference between them, some slight shade of connotation that separates them.  The word “stochastic” is almost a synonym for “random.”  Almost.

Definition of stochastic: In statistics, a stochastic process is a process that is best modeled using a random probability distribution.  The process being modeled may, in fact, be random, or it may not.  The important thing is that a stochastic process is a process that scientists have modeled as if it were random.

Etymology of stochastic: The word comes from an ancient Greek word meaning “to aim in the right direction” or “to guess.”

Lots of things in the world are not truly random, but they may as well be.  The weather.  The economy.  Chemical reactions.  Changes in animal populations.  The orbital drifting of asteroids and comets.  Modeling these things in a strictly deterministic way would be mindbogglingly complicated and utterly impractical.  So scientists create stochastic models instead—models that include some random element to represent the super complicated parts that are impractical to model any other way.

These stochastic models are not perfect, but (as the etymology suggests) they aim us in the right direction, and they allow scientists to make pretty good guesses about what might happen with the weather, or the economy, et cetera, et cetera.

WANT TO LEARN MORE?

I try to avoid telling you to just go read Wikipedia, but the article about this on Wikipedia is actually pretty good.  Most of the other sources I looked at (or tried to look at) were super math heavy.  And you know how I feel about math.

#IWSG: We’ll Fly When We’re Ready

Hello, friends!  Welcome to this month’s meeting of the Insecure Writer’s Support Group, a blog hop created by Alex J. Cavanaugh and co-hosted this month by Kim Lajevardi, Cathrina Constantine, Natalie Aguirre, Olga Godim, Michelle Wallace, and Louise – Fundy Blue.  To sign up for IWSG and to learn more about this amazingly supportive group, click here!

In my last two blog posts, I wrote about the Indian space program and the American space program.  Both have suffered recent delays and setbacks.  Both are still moving forward with their space exploration plans, despite those setbacks.  Whenever I read about real life space programs, I’m always struck by the parallels between space exploration and writing.

Whether we’re talking about space or writing, we’re talking about big ambitions.  Big aspirations.  We’re talking about a lot of hard work (but the fun kind of hard work, the exciting kind of hard work).  We’re also talking about constant setbacks and delays, with certain financial realities looming over us at all times.

A couple years ago, I published my first novella-length Sci-Fi story on Amazon Kindle.  My plan was to follow up, quickly, with a sequel.  Around the same time, I also launched a store on RedBubble so I could sell prints of some of my art.  And then… setbacks.  Delays.  Real life problems.  It was like trying to plug fuel leaks on the Artemis 1 rocket.  As soon as I fixed the problem here, I’d discover liquid hydrogen was spraying all over the place over there.

I can report that 2022 has been a better year for me.  Slowly—very slowly—my writing and my art have gotten back on track.  I’ve been blogging more.  I’m making progress on my next Sci-Fi novella.  Also, I’ve started uploading new art to my RedBubble store for the first time in two years.  But writing takes time.  Art takes time.  As much as I want to rush forward with all my creative dreams, I need to be patient with myself.

After NASA scrubbed the launch of Artemis 1 not once but twice last week, NASA Administrator Bill Nelson had this to say: “We’ll fly when we’re ready.”  Right now, as I get back into the rhythm of writing and illustrating, that’s my mantra.  My muse and I… we’ll fly when we’re ready.