Saturday, 11 February 2012

Deep breath - then start again

I started this blog with the best of intentions. I thought that I would have the time and the inclination to post 2 or 3 times each week. But as you can see that never happened and 11 posts in August shrank down to 7 in September and down to just 2 in October. Since then silence has reigned.

Now I am not always like this. I write a weekly column for the astronomy group VSNET-CHAT and I have never missed a deadline. Not once, ever. So what was the problem with this blog? Why did it fail? I think I set myself an unrealistic target and when I couldn’t reach it I felt disheartened and rather than simply modifying the target I gave up entirely.

The best solution seems to me to widen the scope of the blog and to set myself the target of posting at least 250 words once a week. So this blog is now going to cover the whole range of what I do, what I think and who I am. The attraction of this change is that I don’t really know the answer to the last question. My nearest and dearest are surprised at my sudden enthusiasm for writing fiction and they are getting slightly weary of the number of times the work I am doing with E + E comes up in conversation. Against all my previous ideas about Martin the person the creative and the emotional parts of my new daily routine matter to me. Matter a lot.

This week I was emailed by an amateur astronomer with a particular interest in double stars. Nothing unusual there except that he wanted to buy a copy of the double star software I wrote with the late Hannah Varley. To cut a very long story short. Hannah was in her early 30’s when she got cancer. Treatment was unsuccessful and she went into a hospice to die, but then against all medical expectations she partially recovered and started doing odd pieces of work with me to improve the software. With no warning our almost daily email exchanges stopped and a few days later I was told she had died. The software is like a little piece of Hannah that lives on and the thought of it being used by somebody who didn't know her or her sad end is just something I cannot cope with. So I turned them down.


  1. Hi Martin, I can understand your protective instinct regarding Hannah, but I presume she worked on the software with you wanting it to be shared with others. Doesn't it help keep her memory alive the more people who use it - even those who didn't know her personally? Can you put a dedication to her on the programme? Even the short amount you explained on your blog was so poignant! Otherwise the work she did with you was in vain.

    I enjoyed your blog! Keep up with your realistic targets!


  2. How very sad that she was taken so young.

    And don't worry about what you intended for this blog. Let to just become what it will be, and it will end up serving you and your readers as it should.

    I like the idea of starting over, especially after a good, deep breath.

  3. I use the software most weeks and articles that come about from using the software do mention Hannah.

    You can scroll down to the bottom of this recent paper for an example

    Letting go of the software would mean letting go of Hannah. It would become just another piece of astronomical software rather than part of Hannah's memorial. I don't think I am ready for that.

  4. She was obviously a special lady. It's a terrible shame she died so young!