I went to see Colonel Chris Hadfield, the Canadian astronaut of some considerable fame, speaking at the Usher Hall last week. Talk about inspirational! His 90-minute presentation with videos, sound, imagery and even song, was as enlightening as it was gripping, as humorous as it was humbling, and as inspirational as it was joyous.
The whole evening wasn’t what one might have expected, i.e., a review of what we already knew through previous interviews and social media posts. It was a journey through the emotions, thoughts and idiosyncrasies of an astronaut waking up on the day he was to “leave Earth” and what then followed.
It was fascinating stuff, truly amazing to listen to him describe the sensations and thoughts while walking up to the space shuttle: “I’ll either be floating around by the end of the day or dead.” And it was the wee things, like how all the astronauts jumped into the air at once when the lift taking them to the Shuttle entrance got to the top of the lift shaft. Silly stuff, but gave the impression of a bunch of excited people finally fulfilling years of training and dreaming.
And the training! Is there anything the guy can’t do? Absolutely everything is covered and trained for in minute detail, every eventuality in order to be able to cope with the most constantly asked question throughout his journey: “what could kill us next?”
For me, hearing him talk about looking back on a planet with no borders and a human race as one, was quite remarkable. It left me feeling very small and insignificant but at the same time part of something great and wonderful.
Good progress is being made on my next novel, GATECRASH. Work has been moving relatively smoothly – a fresh set of eyes on a story has definitely helped – but the last couple of chapters have been very sticky. I remember the original versions of both chapters and neither of them were easy to
produce in the first place. Hindsight, and a new perspective, has meant I’ve been able to approach the problems differently, allowing myself not to feel disappointed with having to bin both chapters and re-write them from scratch. As a result, they both flow better and work as a much slicker link to the next part of the novel.
I’ve recently noticed feeling this way about a lot of my writing since I came back to it. It’s almost as though not thinking about it for so long and diverting my creative energies elsewhere, has helped to clear my mind and remove the cobwebs; scrape away the dead moss, so to speak. Suddenly, I feel that all those difficult editorial decisions that need to be made are clear as to what needs to be done, when in the past I might have been struggling to see the woods for the trees.
I’m aiming to be done with this version of the manuscript – I think t’s now the fourth – before it goes to its firsts beta reader. And it’s been a few years now since I was able to say that!