I’m Back! Or, My Life This Summer and New Plans for The Story Scientist

Hello, followers! I’ve returned from my long hiatus! Yay! I’m so happy to be back with you all.

Now of course your question is, “But Anna, where have you been for the last six months?” Yes, I know. Six months is a long time. As such, this will be kind of a long post. I have a lot of exciting things to report, including new plans for this blog, as advertised in the title. So let’s begin!

Life

So I left you six months ago at the end of April, and a lot has happened since then. (No, I’m totally not being redundant. Why do you ask?)

In school: I finished my sophomore year. Yay! And now I’ve started my junior year. Small yay. I’m very busy and it’ll be a much bigger yay when I finish junior year. Anyway, I am currently taking General Microbiology, Applied Plant Genetics (which has no exams–!), Genomics and Bioinformatics (in which computers and I have a love-hate relationship), and Principles of Biochemistry I. That last is my major source of the dreaded College Nightmare this semester–for instance, before the first exam I dreamed that my professor spent 35 minutes of the exam period talking about what a hard grader he is, and didn’t hand out the exam until there were 15 minutes left . . . but I digress. Bottom line is, I’m doing well in all my classes so far, and more importantly, enjoying them (most of the time).

This summer, I also participated in a great full-time research program, in which I spent 35 hours a week doing my rice drought-and-salt-tolerance research. I’m still working on the preliminary work for that project now, actually. I’ve learned that research is incredibly slow and complex, and if you want to do anything big at all, it takes a lot of work and a lot of time. And yet I love it. I’m passionate about it. (I actually realized this because I was agonizing about it the same way I do about my writing, funnily enough, so that must mean I’m on the right track!)

I also did a lot of traveling this summer. In late May, I visited Pennsylvania for the first time with my family! We went to Pittsburgh, Fallingwater (a beautiful Frank Lloyd Wright house–look it up if you’ve never heard of it before!), and Punxsutawney, the home of Groundhog Day. Pennsylvania’s hills are massive; they really make New Hampshire look flat. Pittsburgh was surprisingly a great city; I think it’s really underrated. The Carnegie Museums of Art and Natural History were a real highlight, as was Point State Park.

In June, I went to a conference in Atlanta, Georgia with my summer research program. It was weird being in Atlanta twice in six months (including the Georgia Aquarium), but in a cool way, and the conference was great for learning about graduate school and how to get there. And at the end of July, I went to another conference at UC Berkeley, where I a) presented my research, b) went out of the Eastern Time Zone for the first time ever, and c) visited San Francisco for a day! (Don’t ever try to do it all in one day. It’s much too big.) My favorite parts of San Francisco were the Golden Gate Bridge (it is NOT overrated) and Lombard Street, the crookedest street in the world. We also got to ride on a traditional trolley to get to Lombard Street, which was so much fun! And traveling is always better with a couple good friends along. If nothing else, they give you something to take photos of.

In short, life has been incredibly busy, but I love research, traveling was really cool, and in just seven short weeks the semester will be over!

Writing

. . . Or, the lack thereof.

Because of all the aforementioned busyness, I haven’t written very much at all. When I left you, I was working quite seriously on editing Circle of Fire, only slightly less seriously on outlining This Hidden Darkness, and I’d given Windsong a break altogether. Now, as ever, things have changed. Windsong has started up again, as a very loosely structured reboot (read: I write when I feel like it, whatever scenes may come to my mind, and I’m hoping a four-book series will magically appear). I got out of the editing groove for CoF sometime before going on vacation in May and haven’t gotten back in yet, though I have some germs of ideas that need sitting down and developing. And unfortunately for the main character, THD has gone entirely to the backburner, to be written “later” when I have more inclination for it.

All this may well seem wishy-washy. It seems that way to me quite often. My perfectionistic mind has been going around and around lately; why am I not writing every day, what’s wrong with me? The answer, of course, is partially that by the end of a day full of science classes and research and so on, my brain is drained. And creativity takes brainpower; I can’t just whip off beautiful writing without staring at the computer screen for a long time. And that’s the other part of the answer, time: between research, coursework, tutoring, and applying for scholarships/fellowships, I’m much too busy to do much writing.

Which is obviously why I’ve created a novel for NaNoWriMo next month.

Stay tuned if you’d like to watch me crash and Burn (the title).

New Plans (As Advertised)

And now, the part you’ve all been waiting for!

So, obviously, I’m resuscitating my blog, and you want to know if it will be just like it was before. The answer is a resounding No, followed by a wimpy But It Will Be Similar. Let’s break this down into categories.

1) Posting Schedule. As you may have noticed, it’s Monday, not Saturday. I will now be posting things on Mondays so I can have the weekend to work on them, rather than scrambling on Friday night to write a post for the next day. I will, however, continue to post weekly (except for this upcoming Christmas, which will be a Monday, so I’ll probably be taking that week off).

2) Types of Posts.¬†Some of these will be the same; for example, Story Starters and My Life This Month will continue to be posted on the first and last¬†Saturdays Mondays of the month, respectively. I will also continue to do science posts, but since I don’t think these were very popular when I was last doing my blog, I want to make them more relevant to writers. My areas of interest and study are plant biology, genetics, and biotechnology, of which the latter two are very popular in sci-fi these days, so I can definitely do some posts on that. If you have any particular topics you’d like to see addressed, drop them in the comments and I’ll take a look!

That leaves one Monday (in most months), which I will probably use for the Beautiful People link-up. I used to do book reviews, and though I enjoyed them, they’re rather time-intensive, so I’m going to stop doing them for now. In months without Beautiful People, which happens sometimes, I’ll probably post a random thought on writing or science or literature, just something of interest. And on those extra-special fifth Mondays, I may do anything and everything: guest posts, special random thoughts, or perhaps book reviews, since those are now out of the regular lineup. That’s just a sampling of what to expect, though!

So I’m back! I had a good summer; how was yours? Did you travel anywhere? Read any particularly good books? Write very much? Do you have any science topics you’d like to see me address? Are you doing NaNoWriMo next month? What are you most interested in seeing on my blog? Share in the comments!

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