Visiting the Large Hadron Collider – or a picture of it.
Went to the Qld Museum's Hadron Collider exhibit. We had a great time but what a challenging concept for a museum. As we stood in mock-ups of large concrete tunnels and what could have been corridors of rooms from my old uni days, and watched a looped video of a scientist bunking out in her office waiting for the right readings to appear... I couldn't help thinking that this was not an exhibit that would capture the imagination of the masses. How do you show the excitement about the discovery of the Boson-Hicks particle? The work of decades of collaborative science, buried deep underground, working on the invisible, with physics and mathematics only a minute fraction of the population would begin to appreciate? We stared at an empty champagne bottle and tried to imagine the visceral excitement of achieving a lifetime's goal and a secret of the universe. We tried - we tried with all of our imagination. What a brave choice for a public museum, which must entertain even more than inform to remain relevant and funded. [Side note just a few years ago the city opened up the tunnel they had been building under the river for a walk through - one of the largest civil engineering projects worldwide in recent years. Don't know if folks would be impressed with a cardboard tunnel after that - even if was a scientific one. Just saying.]
Ditto for the exquisite colour back-lit astronomy photos downstairs. Even 10 years ago they would have been Wow - but in an age where I can watch a space walk live on my laptop or join a Rover on Mars ... well ... kudos for all of the parents who were dragging their squirming children through the exhibit. I think we oldies are way behind the times... sob for science.
Below: Me trying to imagine being 100m underground next to supermagnets accelerating particles thorough this (mock) concrete tunnel and wondering where the exits might be.
Launching date for The Soldier's Woman is here and amid the mayhem of a blog tour, a wedding, modifying costumes for the book launch (yes, really!) is a phone call about the great donation I've made to save penguins in Victoria. This is wonderful news and I am all in favour of saving penguins and many other life forms, just not today. The universe laughs and chaos dances about us. Bless the penguins.
The Soldier's Woman is going on tour - a blog tour, on the 9th of February with the marvelously named Goddess Fish Promotions. I shall now learn what this means and attempt to sound intelligent should the call arise. This is the tour banner and I think I put it up in places, so I shall start here.
My Big Fat Book Launch is coming together, from somewhat more humble beginnings it seems to have grown on it's own. What fun! Looking forward to nibblies and a glass of something to toast Maximillian and Charlotte's story.
Now that I am some way into the second of my Bladewood Legacy books I am researching a whole new area of Napoleonic warfare - naval battles and navy life of the 1800s. Imagine my envy when I read a blog post from someone who happened to pick up a tatty notebook which happened to be a signals diary of a Captain of the line during that time period. They lived in England and had found it in a jumble market or some such. Sigh. Here on the other side of the globe such finds are rare and unaffordable even if you should find such an item. Anyway in a wonderful act of generosity she has scanned the pages for the viewing pleasure of her readers. Yay. So in a synchronous moment I was able to find some great background colour for my main character just when I needed it.
Character development is moving more slowly but the relationship between the two main characters is slowly finding it's feet. This week is full of distractions though, so even when I should be writing I am shamefully not in the moment. Never mind, even words which eventually find themselves orphaned from the book have done their magical work of inventing and populating the imagined world.
The blade of grass was a clean soft spear between her toes. How many times had they walked this path and never noticed the fresh wonder under their feet? Shoes. What a ridiculous impediment! To never feel the velvet crush between your toes? The discomfort of sharp small stones and vicious prickles. The danger of poisonous barbs or slicing glass shards. Never jump away squealing at mystery wet squelshes against your naked arches. Never feel the anarchy joy of oozing mud over your toes. No, none of those things were possible in shoes. Black shiny shoes and bleach white socks. To feel the grass you have to take off your shoes and risk all the joy, pain, happiness and danger the grass has to offer.
In a world made of colours it was white. Like snow, like parts of clouds, like small round pebbles, like the stab of sunlight on a naked eye. In winter places where ice and snow prevail, where my beginnings lie, white is the colour of camouflage, the colour of hell and death. In the damp green heat of always-summer where life bursts from the ground and grows up walls in hued frenzy, white is a conspicuous uncoloured spot. I cupped the frayed wings against the glass, the tiny protesting feet tickling against my palm. Only for a moment I murmured. The darkness is only for a moment. Then freedom. The white wings erupted from their prison out into the singeing glare. White is made of all the colours. I let the sun pinprick my skin with all of its colours while the butterfly flashed against the deep dark greens. How could it hide its brilliant self in the safety of the shadows? Then in only seconds worth of time the little white creature vanished against the blue sky. I forgot, white is also the colour of ghosts.
She put her hand to her lips. They were warm and moist. She could feel the tip of her finger as it ran lightly over the curves. Was she smiling? It was possible. It was so long ago it was difficult to remember what smiling felt like... what breathing felt like ... what anything felt like. The light was so bright it hurt but she didn't want to close her eyes. They had been shut for so long. She was floating up, no, she was not floating ... she was being held. Someone was holding her. Warming her cold flesh, brushing her hair from her face, murmuring words she did not understand but words that felt soft and safe. She blinked the water from her eyes. Tears. They were called tears. But she was not crying. Then she saw his face. His bruised and weary face. She traced the clean path of the tears with her finger. Her warrior had come for her, as she knew he would. They would leave their story for others to tell. Let them populate it with dragons and briar forests and vengenance. A castle, a citadel, a spaceship, a cryofreezer ... It didn't matter. That was an old story. They had a new one to live. A warm breeze hugged her briefly before hurrying on to embrace the rest of the world.
There was patch of paint-box blue between the wisps of rain cloud. In the gap a rolling bleach white cloud curled in on itself, heedless of the world below. What did it care about the crawling things far below? What did it care if it's seconds of unique beauty were only seen by birds and creatures in silver tubes? It sang and danced on the unseen current of a wind high in it's own element. Unworried by thoughts of falling, of failing, of being anything other than what it was - a dance of a thousand million droplets of water vapour. Why should you be any different. Why don't you dance and sing with all the joy of the millions of cells in your body? We are at the beginning of things - always. Between now and the next moment is a new beginning. Leap joyously into the void between the moments.
This is a time for new beginnings and to celebrate I've decided to write a blog post based on whatever the moment's void decides to show me. Should be an interesting exercise.
So here it is the final day, or so, of my sort-of writing retreat. So what have I achieved? Well, some words of course, and as an extra bonus, reassurance that I’ve got this. What I mean is, that the first book wasn’t a happy accident.
I’ve spent the last three or so years in the good company of Mr Google hunting down writing resources. I’ve read blogs, posts, articles, books and watched interviews and listened to authors talking about writing. I am now happy to put words on paper, or whatever. The words are in the right order, almost all perfectly spelled and make a pleasing story taken all together. I should be content, but I am not. I know that the words could be in a better order, make an even better story. So the story is not an end in itself but a process like breathing, where one breath follows another. One idea follows on the heels of the next.
But it is not a regular process for me. Yes, I write every day. Some days are filled with words. But they may not be part of any story. They are like this blog, droplets. The real story brews like the dark clouds outside of my window. Slowly rolling across the blue, rumbling with the promise of rain and tempest. That’s my writing process, the brewing storm.
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Tea-drinker, writer and editor. Ecologist, environmental scientist, futurist and student of irony.