Tag: Maria Popova

Dark Matter

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“Oh, I LOVE winter,” younger me used to say. “It’s so much fun, you can cross country ski, and snowshoe and make snowmen and it’s so cozy.”

I suppose it was last winter that did me in. So now, winter has become my time for escape. And my escape in winter is reading about physics and astronomy. As the white stuff piles up and daily living is more of a chore of shoveling snow and hauling wood, to curl up and read about the tiny world of quarks or the vast world of galaxies is delicious.

Right now I am reading Lisa Randall’s new book Dark Matter and the Dinosaurs (selected by Maria Popova of Brain Pickings as one of the top 15 books she has read this year—a list, BTW, guaranteed to make you feel inadequate.)

Randall talks about dark matter, the concept of which I couldn’t quite grasp for a long time, but now I do. We can’t see dark matter because it doesn’t reflect light and we can’t feel it because its force is too weak to have an effect on us at its level in our everyday lives. But we know it exists because in greater densities it exerts a gravitational force. And not only that, but there is much more of it than the matter we can see. So the truth is, we are literally surrounded by dark matter.

Love that.

As I grow older, more experienced, less sanguine, and more settled into convenience, the awareness of the vast mystery of our Universe is a tonic. And that, perhaps, is the real fountain of youth.

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Big Talker

Remember back when I posted about my work schedule in Stephen King is my Boss? And how I said I sat down at 9:00 am and wrote until 1:00 pm (except for my elevenses break) six days a week?

 I’m a big talker.

About a month ago, the thought of sitting down at 9:00 am to slough through a morning of revision made me real, real tired. My brain did not want to revise. It wanted to make some jewelry—so I let it. I hauled out my beads and little pliers and wire cutters and those tiny but essential findings and had at it.IMG_1850

I spent a happy two days in my “pop-up jewelry store” as the hubby called it, creating with color and texture, letting my writing brain rest. IMG_1856Sure, I had a twinge of guilt for not writing, but not enough to stop me. And after the jewelry, I needed to work with color some more, so I did a few watercolors,glowy chicken 1 completely unconnected to illustrating anything. Just five little watercolors for a show at a gallery in Connecticut. I called it my “glowy animal series.”

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A few days ago, a friend sent me an article by Maria Popova on her Brain Pickings blog that made me realize why I so enjoyed those non-writing days. It was an article about a book called “Uncommon Genius,” published in 1991. The author, Denise Shekerjian, interviewed forty recipients of the MacArthur Foundation “genius” grants about their creative process. Lo and behold, a  very big component of the creative process for them was downtime, drifting-around time, unconnected-to-your-work time. Ta-da! Validation.

Now I’m ready to write again. Nay, I’m eager to write again.

A change, as they say, is as good as a rest.

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