Writing Slump

I haven’t written a single word on my novel since August. Part of it is due to being sick with a bad cold. Part of it has been work-related stress. And part of it is that I’ve just run out of steam.

I’m writing a science-fiction novel, and there is a lot of research involved with the plot and setting. After all, you can’t just set a novel on a future colony on Mars without thinking about some things. Like…

…how is the oxygen supplied?

…who is in charge of the colony?

…how do they handle the dust storms?

…what are the health implications of lower gravity, higher radiation levels, and dust exposure?

…what kinds of jobs would these people have?

…what would they eat?

…what would their homes look like?

I’ve read a lot of research on what NASA and private enterprises are planning for our first journey to Mars. I can rattle off lots of statistics about the planet, such as soil composition, atmospheric pressure changes, average temperatures, and weather patterns. I have six books from the library about Mars exploration, a huge library of web links, and several amazing documentaries. But it is still easy to be paralyzed by all the questions.

My novel is about a young college student who discovers a dying man in the desert near the research installation where she interns. It’s not about the length of a Martian day or wind variances in Valles Marineris. It’s about her. And that is where the questions get a lot more complicated. Such as…

…how much does my main character study?

…how long does it take to make her angry?

…does it make sense for my main character to like banana smoothies?

…what is her favorite outfit?

The answers are completely up to me. It’s a paralyzing thought, especially if I stop to consider what other people might think. If I finally finish this novel and get it published, other people will read it and think, “Why on earth would she like banana smoothies? That makes no sense.”

Silly? Perhaps. But I happen to think banana smoothies fit her just fine, even if bananas are expensive on Mars. So there.


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