Calm Waters

After last week’s midterms, I have been able to relax. My schedule this week has emphasized light reading and light writing. The perfect existence, I think, would be to read and to write and to think and to sleep (until sleeping is cured), and to be interrupted occasionally by experience. I imagine this flow of time would resemble Stephen Jay Gould and Niles Eldredge’s theory of punctuated equilibrium.

My sad public admission this week: I’m not very well read. I have read a lot of books, but most of them have been science fiction, fantasy, horror, and nonfiction about technology and the planets. Thankfully, this semester has really opened my eyes to literature. This week I read works from  16th century England including sonnets by the Italian Petrarch translated to English by  Sir Thomas Wyatt and Henry Howard, Earl of Surrey; Edmund Spenser’s Sonnets 1 and 68 from Amoretti and “Epithalamion”; and Sir Philip Sidney’s “The Defense of Poesy.” I also read David Foster Wallace’s essay “Derivative Sport in Tornado Alley” and the first several pages of Wide Sargasso Sea by Jean Rhys. I started reading Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë in anticipation of Wide Sargasso Sea, but I will probably have to finish it after the latter is due for class. I read and critiqued short stories from three classmates in my fiction writing class. Inspiring, all of them.

As for writing, I wrote a new essay – “Space Tomatoes” – and a short poem – “Erotica” – for a weekly #WednesdayChallenge on

National Novel Writing Month begins next week. The goal is 50,000 words by the end of November by writing rapidly and without regard to quality. I succeeded in 2010 but not since. The goal will be extra challenging this year because of school, but I do plan to participate. I have not decided on a story yet, except I want to write something smaller in scope than my previous novels, with fewer characters and locations. I need practice with tales that lie somewhere between short stories and ambitious epic novels, where 50,000 words contains all of the beginning, middle, and end. The story needs to be set not on a global stage but locally. Somewhere calm waters are about to splash.

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Richard Leis

Richard Leis is a fiction writer and poet, with his first published poem forthcoming later in 2017 from Impossible Archetype. His essays about fairy tales and technology have been published on Tiny Donkey. Richard is also the Downlink Lead for the High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment (HiRISE) team at the University of Arizona. He monitors images of the Martian surface taken by the HiRISE camera located on board the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter in orbit around Mars and helps ensure they process successfully and are validated for quick release to the science community and public. Once upon a time, Richard wrote and edited the science and technology news and commentary website Frontier Channel, hosted the RADIO Frontier Channel podcast, and organized transhumanist clubs. Follow Richard on his website (, on Goodreads (richardleis), his (@richardleis), Twitter (@richardleisjr), and Facebook (richardleisjr).