Sunday, December 19, 2010

Spock's Space Flare

All you Star Trek enthusiasts have seen this episode.  Spock's in charge of this away team of 7.  Well, now it's down to 5, since two redshirts (actually, they wore yellow - but it might as well have been red) got killed by some ape creatures.  Now the 5 of them are trapped on this planet.  They can't be beamed up and they can't communicate with the Enterprise because of some green stuff in the atmosphere.  They've spent too much fuel in their shuttlecraft fighting off the ape creatures.  Some bureaucrat tells Capt. Kirk on the Enterprise that he needs to end his search so they can hurry on to jury duty (or whatever they have to do on Markus III).

In other words, things are looking bleak for Spock and his crew.  This is where the video clip below begins.

Since the ape men are coming, Spock has no choice but to launch the shuttle.  They don't have enough fuel to break orbit.  Spock tells them they have about an hour left.  They still can't contact the Enterprise.  They're going to die unless they do something.

Spock makes the irrational decision to jettison and ignite their fuel.

Scotty says, "What did you do that for?"  Now it'll take six minutes for the fuel to exhaust, and then they'll immediate begin their descent into the atmosphere.  Spock has sped up their demise, but to what end?  Just to send up a flare?

Back to the Enterprise: Sulu - while demonstrating his awesome ability at pushing buttons - looks up to the view-screen and says, "Look, Captain!"  Now they know exactly where to continue their search.  Guess who's about to be saved!

Now why would I bring up this classic blast from the past?

Because all you ever need to know you can learn from Star Trek.  ;)

Spock had no idea what was going to happen when he jettisoned the fuel.  There was a high probability that the Enterprise was long gone.  As Spock said, "There was no one there to see it."  But he got lucky.  Sulu saw it, and they got rescued.  In hindsight, Spock's only "bad" decision would have been to not send up a flare.  Had he taken that inaction, the shuttlecraft would have been in orbit much longer than six minutes, but they wouldn't have been noticed, and they would have died.

Sometimes I feel like I need to send up my own space flare.  I'm an aspiring writer.  Nobody knows who I am.  It takes a lot of talent and energy to get noticed (mostly energy).  But I don't have a lot of time to work with.  The day job gets a large portion of my life force.  My family gets another portion.  Other obligations take up most of the rest, and there's not much left over to put into writing.

Two years ago, I had made the decision to set aside actuarial exams in order to give myself more time to push forward my writing career.  To delay these exams is to delay the corresponding raises that come from passing each exam.  It is also to delay my progress in attaining full actuarial credentials.  Yes, I set aside some of my professional development so I could put up a space flare and hope that someone would see it.

I've made a lot of progress in the last couple of years.  I now have two finished novels, a few short stories, and I've started a blog and have attended my first writer's conference.

However, my time has elapsed and now I must return to the actuarial exams.  I am starting to descend back into the planet's atmosphere.  My space flare is running out, and no one has seen it.  Or rather - some have seen it and thought it was just a meteorite.  Now I must meet my fate among the green stuff.  Choke choke gag!  Burn!  Ugh!

Then again, life isn't that bad.  Even though I won't be writing as much, I can still submit my stuff to publishers and agents.  In a best case scenario, I'll be a full fledged actuary in two years, and I can go back to writing again and get a third book finished.  Should an agent or publisher see the remains of my space flare during that time, I'll gladly set aside these actuarial exams again to pursue the opportunity.

We'll see what happens.

Well, good luck to you - all who are putting up their space flares.  May you be seen and rescued!  In another couple of years, I'll put up another space flare and I'll come to join you.

Happy writing and ... *crackle* *buzz* *choke*

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