Venus on Mars

Weathering the Storm

Posted in Author's Notes by janmillsapps on January 21, 2010

Driving into the Storm - it's a good thing!

It’s the last week before I have to go back to work and a series of huge rainstorms has come through the Bay Area, one after the other, building dramatically until hailstones fell yesterday afternoon, and I thought how easily unstable weather can disrupt everything. That’s what happens constantly in my book. Just when you think you can get a good look at Mars, some naughty atmospheric current shows up and blurs the whole planet. Sometimes the weather is on Mars itself, which is enough like Earth to have a respectable atmosphere, and therefore its own version of disruptive storms.

In this case the unsettled weather has proven beneficial, keeping me inside and grounded enough to write, write, write, rewrite, rewrite, etc. My first draft has come together and I’m convinced the story works. I can still get thrilled when I read it for the umteenth time. A few parts remain a mess and will require careful editing, but out of the rain, wind and hail, a sense of completeness has arisen, and a most surprising calm has descended upon me.

I’d been practically in mourning about my sabbatical ending, absolutely outraged that I had to interrupt my writing to teach desperate and outraged students in an underfunded university system that sank even lower while I was away. I realize now my feelings of dread were caused by the incompleteness of the book. I needed huge amounts of time to work on the story as a whole, trying to get it in place, but now that it’s there, I can finesse its parts, working for an hour or so each morning before I head off to the SFSU salt mines. The bulk of the work is done just as time is running out and that’s OK. This week’s winter storms have been the catalyst for completion.

Here’s an excerpt from my character Lulu’s  journal:

Do not look at it, look on it, you told me. Instead, I look through it, beyond it. Finally I take a lingering look at what’s obscuring it, examining the disturbance itself. Oh.

You were wrong. We should have not waited for the sky to clear, for the air to calm. We should have faced the turbulence head-on, leaning into the wind, taking careful steps forward, looking in all directions for useful information.

Good advice as written by one of my characters, useful advice I realize I’ve written to myself.

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