We Are Go

August? AGAIN? I’m starting to think I don’t understand how time works.

Anyhoots, here I am. I’ve been fairly MIA this summer from ye ole blog town, and the Intertubes in general, in major part because I was neck-deep in another kind of writing. That is, I was writing a novel. Which I finished.

I actually finished the draft in late July. I initially thought that in my euphoria, I would hop on here and go bananas– like, type in all caps or use Comics Sans or something. And in truth, I was euphoric, but quietly so, down deep, a strange quantum sort of humming. That initial moment felt so intensely private that I was afraid to voice it even in the space of my room. Still feels that way a little. So, I’ll cut this short by noting for the record: Draft 1: 370 pages, 97,528 words. Am in process of sending to readers for Round 1. Terrifying.

My euphoria found an outlet instead in the Mars Curiosity Rover landing on August 5. Holy Cats! TW and I sat glued to NASA TV starting at like 11 p.m. Central time and late into the night. That was one of the best dramatic moments I have ever witnessed. Here, watch it again:

I love this video because it cuts in the real-time reactions of the Blue Shirts, those immensely talented science folks at NASA, as they learn that their gorgeously complicated, seemingly impossible feat worked. They did it. Whoever edited that video with the animation understands storytelling: it’s all in the people’s faces, their bodies, their reactions. Wonderful.

After those wild eruptions of joy, of course, things at NASA and the JPL settled down. As awesome as it was, the EDL (Entry, Descent, Landing) was only the first part of the mission. The scientists immediately started gathering data and examining it. They ran precise, slow checks on the safety and health of the rover. They updated software. They cautioned patience and mapped out the long journey ahead for Curiosity. This wasn’t to detract from the success, only to remind themselves of the larger mission.

Am I making a connection to writing? Oh, why the heck not, even though it seems beyond narcissistic to see myself in a planetary landing. Of course writing the first draft of a novel is not a feat on par with landing an SUV-sized rover on Mars. It isn’t. Yet, in those scientists’ faces, I do recognize, on a much smaller scale, the sense of joy and wonder at my own little EDL, which is then tempered by the recognition that much of the work still lies ahead, that it will demand patience and careful study and steadiness as I rove through this newly discovered world.

Mission Control, we are go for Draft 2.

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