Right now I’m at the beginning of a new project. I’m very excited. But it’s hard.

Every time I start writing something new, it feels like the most impossible thing in the world. No matter how much I love the idea or the characters. No matter how detailed my outline or how perfect a soundtrack I’ve put together.

Because as much as I know about the characters, they don’t come alive until I start writing them. And even then, it’s a long, slow struggle to unearth them from all the possibilities and wrong-turns. It’s like they’re at the far side of a huge, shadowy room, and I’m trying to get closer, to see them clearly, but the floor of the room is covered in molasses (or caltrops, on the bad days).

I know it’s worth it. But I forget, sometimes, how hard it is. So I’m writing this down, now, so that next time I’m at the beginning, I can look back and remember I’ve made it across that room before.

Anyone else out there struggling with a new beginning? I raise my teacup to you!

Since I’m at the beginning of something, I’ve been accumulating nifty tidbits in the course of research. Here’s a few:

Oscar Niemeyer. I found him while reading about Brazil. I kept seeing these amazing images of buildings (exteriors and interiors) with this wonderful futuristic aesthetic. Like this:

Museo de Arte Contempóraneo, Arq. Oscar Niemeyer, Niteroi-Brasil

And this:

8ª Bienal Internacional de Arquitetura / Pavilhão Ciccillo Matarazzo, São Paulo, SP

And eventually I realized they were all designed by the same guy. Who happens to have had a pretty impressive life.

He’s 104 years old and still working.

I hope I am still writing, if I make it to 104!

Real-life Chimera
This is from an episode called of one of my favorite podcasts, RadioLab. The full program (titled “(So-Called) Life”) is here. The whole thing is worth listening to, but the part that kind of blew my mind starts around 7 minutes into the program, with a story about a woman named Karen, reported by Soren Wheeler. I’m not going to tell you exactly what it’s about because it’s more interesting to hear the slow reveal.

The Bioengineer Song
In the same podcast, there’s a bit near the end about students at MIT engineering the normally stinky E. coli bacteria used in their lab to smell like wintergreen. The potential of science is awesome (in both the “magnificent” and “terrifying” senses of the word).

Here’s a link to an article about the story (though the podcast has more details). The part I wanted to point you to (especially if you are a fan of weird, subversive music akin to what you hear on Dr Demento) is the song they created for the piece. If you scroll down on the left sidebar you can play “We are Bioengineers” yourself!

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  1. Jon says:

    Oscar Niemeyer! So glad you posted about him, as his stuff is really amazing. I saw one of his buildings in an image but couldn't place it, and now I can finally Google his name! Thanks.

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  3. Oh! The way you talk about writing this down now so you can look back next time–YES! There are days when I know that's why I blog, so I can see where I've been, where I'm going, what I've done, and what I need to do.

    And those designs. Just wow.