Nina describes herself as an alien, a scientist and writer. She is, in fact, a published author. In her Blogger Profile she describes herself thus: “I enjoy walking in the rain and the smell of the earth after a rainstorm. I love the two equinox seasons and the crazy dance of fall leaves in the wind. I love this planet, Earth, and I pray we all take good care of it for our children and their children.”
Nina hails from Ladner, British Columbia in Canada and, judging by what I’ve read of her work so far, has a remarkable talent for taking difficult scientific subjects and weaving them into her stories. Take, for example, Julia’s Gift. She introduces it with: In keeping with thoughts on endosymbiosis, autopoiesis and other wonderful biological words, here’s a story of mine that speaks to them … Hope you enjoy it …
I certainly did — so much so that after reading it I found myself inspired to turn once again to my own current writing project, a novel (hopefully!) that has sat, a little unloved and largely malnourished, for far too long. Thank you, Nina. Reading Julia’s Gift made me realise that having the skill and the opportunity to write is a precious thing — it should not be squandered.
Whether my story really does turn out to be a full length novel or just a short story, it still has to be written. This uncomfortable fact has been exercising me since setting up this blog in April. I’ve been preoccupied with settling on a layout, joining various sites to help get it in front of viewers and writing regular posts that I hope are interesting enough to prevent the loyal readers I’ve attracted thus far from drifting away. During this time, I’ve composed not one jot of fiction. I’ve been worried about that, because I think writing fiction is where my real strength lies.
Like Nina, I’m full of concern for our planet and where we’re headed. Climate change is top of my list. Unlike Nina, I’m not a qualified scientist in any particular field — but I do read a lot about the subjects that interest me and I can pull together sufficient information to post speculative articles like my recent one about The UK Floods. But it is just that — speculation. I doubt very much that any professional climatologist reading that post would find in it anything strikingly innovative or original, sufficient to make them recommend it to their fellow researchers.
However, taking speculative ideas and/or complex scientific theories and data — often difficult to convey to the general public in a dry, factual, academic sense that’ll keep their attention — and weaving them into a gripping fictional story, where the characters come to life and play out scenarios dictated by those same ideas and theories, is the stuff of any good writer’s dreams.
That’s what I think Nina’s managed so well with Julia’s Gift. “Endosymbiosis, autopoiesis” — these words mean nothing to me on an academic level. But when she writes in her story that Mom and Dad met at BioGen in Montreal. She was a junior microbiologist in ‘functional genomics’ with unorthodox ideas and he was one of their chief scientists in nano-technology and transgenic research. BioGen was supposed to save the world but then one of Dad’s ‘creations’ got away from them and crashed the world’s wheat crop”, I’m there. I get it. The story that unfolds has tragic consequences on a personal level for the characters, played out against a backdrop warning of possible global catastrophe caused by runaway science. This is Nina’s gift to us, the readers — imaginative writing parsing complex concepts into laymens’ terms. I only hope I can do as well.
Writing a novel, or even a short story, is not really something that can be done online — it has to be done offline, at least until whatever’s written is ready to be published as a post in my blog. Good time management is something that’s always escaped me. If I’m going to juggle online blogging with offline writing, I’ve got to grasp the fundamentals of it. My days have tended to be rather chaotic, with a bit of blog writing here, some blog reading there, a little “real” work thrown in for good measure at any time of day — and some randomly grabbed time spent away from the computer when I’m gently reminded by Marcy that I’m supposed to have a life beyond what’s occurring on my screen! Recently, however, I’ve been rising early — around 6.30am — and spending the first couple of hours of my day checking e-mails, viewing Google Reader‘s feeds from my favourite blogs, posting comments on other people’s blogs and then composing posts for my own, the last bit usually then spilling over into the rest of the morning after a breakfast break and taking me up to lunchtime. I’ve realised that the afternoon is the ideal time to be set aside for offline writing. So that’s what I’m going to try — to introduce a new discipline into my life that will hopefully yield great benefit in the long run.
And I got all this just from reading Nina’s story! Now that’s what I call making an impression.