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.

#IWSG: The Spice of Life

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 Elliott, Melissa Maygrove, Chemist Ken, Lee Lowery, and Nancy Gideon.  To learn more about this amazingly supportive group, click here!

“Do one thing and do it well.”  I’ve heard this aphorism over and over again throughout my life, and there’s a certain common sense simplicity to it that I find appealing.  Whenever life gets complicated and I feel like I’m being pulled in too many directions at once, I really wish I could pick just one thing to do—I wish I could be permitted to focus all my time and energy on just one thing, without any distractions, so that I could have a chance to do that one thing exceptionally well.

Last month, I participated in the A to Z Challenge.  For anyone who doesn’t know, the A to Z Challenge is a month-long blogging event.  Participants post twenty-six blog posts, one for each successive letter of the alphabet.  All of my posts were about humanity’s future in outer space, or perhaps I should say humanity’s potential future in outer space.  Our species has so much potential!  But I do realize there’s no guarantee that we’ll live up to our potential, though.

In order to ensure my success with the challenge, I canceled any other plans I’d made in the month of April.  I used up a bunch of vacation days at my job.  I made sure I got my taxes done super early this year.  I put a few of my other creative projects on hold, temporarily.  I engineered my whole schedule so that I would able to do just this one thing: blogging.  Did I do it well?  That’s a subjective thing, of course, but I feel that I did the best I possibly could on most of my posts.  And it felt good.

However, there came a point when I started to miss working on my other creative projects.  Being able to “do one thing and do it well” feels nice, but to really thrive, I need variety in my creative life.  My muse was kind enough to hold back on new ideas during the A to Z Challenge.  Now, however, there’s a backlog of ideas that my muse would like me to work on—and I am eager to get to work on those new ideas!

“Do one thing and do it well” can be good advice, for a short time.  When life gets complicated, sometimes we need to stop and have the simplicity of doing one and only one thing for a while.  But when I think about my lifelong goals, when I think about my own future as a writer/artist/blogger, there’s a different aphorism that I’d rather live by: “Variety is the spice of life.”