Monday, August 22, 2011

And Now, Back to Your Regularly Scheduled Life

Today is the first day of school for my younger son (the older one went back to school last week), which means the house belongs to myself and the two dogs (who spend most of their time sleeping) for several hours each day.

It would have been tempting to plan to dive right back into work and start zooming away on the novel as soon as the door closed behind the younger child, but, I know myself better than this. I knew I would need some decompression time, time to adjust to the silence of the house (and the increase in environmental noise - like barking dogs and construction - that would become louder because of the vacuum), and I actually planned to give myself some space to do this. I'll pat myself on the back. I got myself right. Finally.

The house is quiet. Too quiet. And feels empty. The dogs are both sacked out - big dog on the couch and puppy by the sliding glass door. It's an overcast day in Baylandia, which makes the day feel even quieter.

So there's decompression from the kids going back to school and no longer being in the house. And there's also decompression from spending the weekend in Reno for Worldcon, which was a whirlwind of panel discussions on topics as diverse as infectious diseases (a catastrophic epidemic will not wipe out the human race, all it will take is a disease that kills 10% of the population to sufficiently disrupt such essentials as distribution of clean water and food and we'll die of water and food-born pathogens), writing fiction with real people as characters (make sure to choose someone who has been dead long enough to have few heirs or someone who does not have a litigious estate), and the nature of consciousness (a "philosophical zombie" is someone who does not know if anyone else has consciousness because, while you know you yourself have consciousness, you can not absolutely know for sure that anyone else you meet does as well). The highlight of my weekend was meeting Guy Consolmagno, or Brother Guy, who is an MIT-educated Jesuit priest and astronomer at the Vatican Observatory, who set us straight about a number of things including that the excommunication of Galileo was not about his science, it was a political move brought about because Galileo's patrons, the de Medicis, had fallen out of favor. Two years after his excommunication, Galileo was back on his estate carrying on just as before. (which, of course, makes me want to research it and write about it - this weekend was great for giving me more stories that I will probably never be able to write)

Another highlight was the panel discussion on linguistics. The academic credentials of the four panelists were incredibly impressive - PhD's all - but what really impressed...the moderator created the Klingon language and one of the panelists created the Dothraki language for the HBO Game of Thrones series. (Also amazing to me...the number of times George RR Martin crossed my path just wandering around the con like all the rest of us mere mortals. Unfortunately, I never had my camera handy when he did so).

Despite Worldcon's focus on SF and fantasy writing (or maybe because of it), I found plenty of interconnection with my own work. A talk about the ways ancient cultures have mapped the heavens gave me lots of information that relates directly to the novel, as did the linguistics discussion. I often went back to my hotel room at the end of the day with my head spinning and so mentally exhausted, I couldn't even contemplate playing Solitaire on the computer.

So, here I am again, just me and my words, and a novel to complete, and a whole bunch of new stories to think about. Which will make my next blog post very timely. Awhile back, I asked several writer and artist friends, how they created a balance between the existing work and the new ideas that inevitably form while you're engaged in a long-term project. My next post will focus on their responses.

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