Adventures in Mad Science

November 26, 2010

Over ten years ago, when I was in my undergraduate program at Miami University, I didn’t know enough to listen to my head or my heart when it came to my studies. I was a science major, and I cannot remember quite why that was.

Now, I have to confess, I cannot access a lot of memories from my college years. The reason for that is drugs. To be clearer, it was badly prescribed prescription drugs that were supposed to be preventing the seizures that began a month into my junior year, when I was already deep into the botany program.

I am not sure how I passed my classes, other than my professors were well aware of my sudden health issues, and were amazing in helping me through those two extremely blurry years. I guess when a nearly straight A student suddenly can barely pull C’s, they take pity on her. The things I can remember the most is writing, always writing, usually poetry while I was in my science classes. It was sort of all I cared about, like a best friend that never left my side, until I couldn’t really get at the words anymore. But that happened later, once I’d switched medications and my brain started to sort of re-organize itself. My entire world was busy re-inventing itself, and I was having a hell of a time writing much of anything.

It’s very odd to go from having a photographic memory to no longer being able to get at your pictures. Once able to read my chicken-scratched notes for a class, and ace a test without breaking a sweat, I somehow struggled through the evils of O-chem, bio-chem, and other memory-crucial courses. I graduated and had no idea what to do with my degree I’d barely managed to obtain.

A few years went by, struggling through crappy job after crappy job, and I discovered NaNoWriMo in 2003, and every November since then, I’ve written a crappy 50k word novel, but so much more than that, I’ve learned what it takes to churn out that many words a day, how better to manage my time, and to start calling myself a writer. It was a very long uphill battle.

Last year, I decided to do a poetry project, and while it started off fun, it slowly deteriorated into forcing myself to write. I wasn’t enjoying it, which is always a sign something needs to change, that I’m somehow doing things the wrong way. I feel like it’s proof that I have trouble finishing things I have started, and that somehow I psychologically warp that work worth doing somehow needs to be a struggle.

Late in the spring of 2010, I started writing Scurvytown. I am not sure what brought on the idea or the characters. In fact, one of the main characters I had created in the waiting room at the dentist in late 2008. It was like all the sudden, I was ready to write about him, and share his story. And I think the story has come a long way.

I am not sure why I am sharing all this, other than I am an over-sharing kind of gal. I had intended to write about what I mean when I call a project an “Adventure in Mad Science.” I think this brain dump about my deeply-rooted (see what I did there, with the botany reference, c’mon, roll your eyes with me!) science background sort of casts a bit of light on how I create, some kind of scientific process in a way, that when the results seem unclear, instead of altering my methodology, I give up.

Not this time. I feel like I tapped into something special when I created Scurvytown, and though it has been on hiatus while I have been struggling with yet another horrible job and the infinitely more positive learning to love graduate studies, I think I am ready to return to weekly story-telling, and I am excited to share the continuing adventures of Scurvytown with whomever cares to read them.

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