When An Old Project Surprises You

It’s never fun to shelve a project. To admit temporary defeat. To say “all this work I’ve done isn’t paying off in the immediate future, if ever.” But in order to keep improving our craft and using our time wisely, it is a necessary part of being a writer. But the fun part is picking up such an unfinished story a year or two later and saying “Wow. This is actually really good.

The project I speak of is The Shadow of Saturn, a dramatized memoir about my time as a NASA intern. I cranked out 50,000 words of it for NaNoWriMo 2012, rewrote most of those 50,000 words (see Thomas, I do sometimes stop in the middle of a draft and go back! :P), then shelved it indefinitely. I just wasn’t ‘feeling’ it anymore. I was feeling Paradisa more, so I started Paradisa and didn’t look back.

This book was my first attempt at writing after a three-year hiatus. I cringed at every word. I hated writing it because I felt so self-conscious about my style. Which is why I was so delighted to pick up that unfinished draft yesterday, flipping through it, unable to stop reading, constantly thinking “This is actually a decent start.”

I already have a full outline finished for this book, although it is way too long. One of the reasons I never finished it is because the outline puts it at about 150,000 words. That is longer than this novel has any right to be. So maybe I’ll futz with the outline some this week. After my Paradisa edits, of course :P But I’ll need something to work on during my next beta round so…perhaps this is a worthy side project.

As I read, I just kept thinking, “I want other people to read this book.” And because it’s a memoir, I need to get it all down before my memory starts waning. I’m already three years removed from the experience. I don’t want it to grow much longer.

Anyway, thought I’d chime in with a happy Monday post ;) You can see my scene counter has gone down slightly in the sidebar. Just 11 more to go. How was your weekend, Pressworld? And have you ever dusted off an old project with delight?

I’m Published!…Sort of.

At 22, I am still an “aspiring” author. Of course, that’s a nice way of saying “unpublished.” I’m not ashamed of that at all, since I am so young and this is honestly the first time I’ve attempted to be published.  It’s like being the first 200 feet into a marathon.

So imagine my amusement when I recently discovered that my name has been included in a published work – it’s just not fiction.

When I was a NASA Academy intern in 2012, I worked in the Environmental Control and Life Support Systems branch of Marshall Space Flight Center. I helped build an instrument called the Methane Purification Assembly, which is part of a resource recovery chain. Basically, you filter a stream of methane, carbon dioxide, and water through the MePA, and it absorbs everything but the methane. The methane travels on to other instruments to be broken back down into hydrogen (and acetylene, but that’s filtered out and discarded as well). If successful, this instrument will join others aboard the International Space Station, and will get us closer to achieving longterm life support beyond Low Earth Orbit.

Turns out this research has finally been published, and you can find it on the NASA Technical Documents server! And my name is on it! You can find it here. You can actually download the entire paper (it’s only 11 pages) and read it, if you’re  so inclined. Either way, it’s proof that I do have one publishing credit to my name ;)