Sometimes I wonder why I put myself through this.  Staying up late, forgetting to eat, being all alone as I labor over a story… only to get a stack of rejection letters.

The other night, while I watched the lunar eclipse, I realized writing and astronomy have a lot in common.  They both seem easy until you try them.  They’re both lonely activities, and they both require attention to details.

As a writer, I’ve had to learn all these different rules about grammar and rhetoric; as an amateur astronomer, I’ve memorized the names of stars and constellations.  It requires mental discipline to keep track of where everything is supposed to be in the sky, just as it takes discipline to keep track of all the elements in a story.

The odds of discovering any new celestial bodies are extremely low.  Amateur astronomers do find things: comets, asteroids, maybe a dwarf star or two.  But I’m more likely to have a New York Times bestseller (my fellow writers, you all know how bad the odds are for that) than get to name a star after myself.

Despite all that, I still keep going out to stare at tiny lights in the sky.  It gives me a better sense of my place in the universe, thinking about how huge those stars really are and how far away.  Then I go inside and write science fiction… maybe I do that for the same reason.

P.S.: The universe is absurdly big.  Click here if you don’t believe me.

2 responses »

  1. Ruth Heil says:

    As a writer who went outside, alone, to stand in the dark and look at the moon that night, I love the analogy. Well said. May your stars shine in 2011!


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