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January 18, 2015

Some Weekend Thoughts on Chick Science Lit (Sort of)

My goodness. I have a lot that I want to write about. But time is short right now, and I'm afraid it's going to keep getting shorter. I've had this nice, quiet lead in for the new year, where the office was quiet and I was actually laying some groundwork for projects rather than just responding to things coming up and was leaving work at a reasonable hour and having the evenings for what I wanted my evenings for and was feeling somewhat organized. At least, like I was moving toward being more organized. And that's not all changed, but I do have the feeling that things are starting to pick up at work. The more things I have to do, the more scattered I feel, and the less time I feel I have to spend on any one thing, and the less engaged or accomplished I feel. I'm sure this is a *completely* unusual work complaint. I'm pretty sure I've never heard it before.

I also kept forgetting until yesterday that this is a three-day weekend. So, there's still time for organizing, writing, and doing. I have a few back-entries on the burner I'd like to get up: One on the Channel Islands, one on Washington, D.C., and one on Mount St. Helens. Plus, there's a book I'd like to write.

This is what I decided last week about writing a book:
I'd like to write the book I'd like to write.
Duh, right? But...
I spend a lot of time thinking about the book(s) I *should* write. I should strategize, so that I use the content as effectively as possible. Do I write a book about volcanoes and tectonics and adventures of the Philippines, and a separate one about GPS field stories in general, and a separate one about... whatever? Do I write a book about the history of GPS as it's been used in Earth science, which I started in on interviews for before I took this job?

And then I thought, why don't I just start writing. Because *a* book would be better than *no* book, even if after the fact I realize I could have saved some of the content for a different book. And I just can't get excited about the GPS history book. Besides, someone else is writing one that's kind of similar. I'm just not that into the technology. And I like to speak from experience. So, I think I'll just write my own book. About volcanoes and hot weather and cold weather and good food and bad food and stray animals and serenading MCs and bruises and cuts and snowmobiles and helicopters and bogs and women and men and enormous frogs and tiny scorpions and what the journey's been like from my perspective. I know other people who have traveled more or more recently, have had crazier adventures, know the science better, know the engineering better, have more letters after their names. are more connected or older or younger or whatever. But, I may as well do it. I may as well write my version.

Around that same time, I was thinking, what if it's a chick book? What if it's a chick science book? Because I'm, you know, female, and it's all from my perspective, and I could sanitize it and take out all the bits that distinguish me as a woman--the romance-y bits, or the I'm-conflicted-about-my-role-in-this-situation-based-on-gender bits--but then it would have to be less personal, and that's just not as fun--but also just not as real. So what if it ends up being a chick science book? Would it be that gender-heavy? I don't know. I think my 19-year-old self would definitely not approve, if it was. But I think I was still more concerned with proving that women were (and especially that I was) worth taking seriously. Which meant taking gender out and having it--whatever it was--be either masculine or gender free. I'm not 19 anymore. Maybe it's okay to write a book from not only a person's perspective, but the perspective of a person who is a communicator with some science background who likes a lot of different stuff who is also female. And it's okay if all of these things matter. And it's okay to get started on whatever it is and see what works and what doesn't. What it is and what it isn't. I realized it's okay to not know right off, and see how the writing unfolds.

For what it's worth, I think Tom Horn (is he still out there?) would like it.

Posted by beth at January 18, 2015 3:06 AM

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