One year ago today, we launched Lofty Ambitions (click HERE for our launch post). We chose our three-pronged focus carefully: science of the twentieth century and beyond, aviation and spaceflight, and writing as a couple. Those topics drew from our deep, shared interests but gave us plenty of room to maneuver. As you can tell from the Lofty Topics in our sidebar, we gravitated, over the past year, especially to the space shuttle and various things nuclear, in large part because world events pointed us to these two topics that were already of interest. Had the space shuttle program not been set to end in 2011, we would have launched this blog anyway. But if we hadn’t launched this blog, we aren’t sure we would have gone to such lengths to see a space shuttle launch. We’re all in now and packing our bags for the last launch, scheduled for July 8.
When we began this endeavor (or do we spell it Endeavour now) a year ago, we committed to writing a post together for each Wednesday. We are proud to report that we have not missed a single week, though there was one Wednesday when the post went up with just two minutes to spare (already almost 3a.m. on the East Coast) and needed some immediate editing. The length of a blog post is manageable (in fact, some weeks, it’s so manageable that we run longer than we expected), and it forces us to shape our ideas. Having a weekly deadline makes us think about what we know that’s worthy of several hundred words and how to balance planning, drafting, and revising. There’s a certain buzz one gets with a tight deadline. Like having your cake and eating it too, we are always meeting a deadline only to face a deadline.
Collaborating has not always been easy, but it continues to be rewarding week to week. At first, we always sat down to brainstorm and draft together, often mapping out a couple of week’s worth of ideas and drafting sentence by sentence together the piece we needed to post pronto. While we still enjoy doing that, schedules and other constraints have forced us to come up with a variety of ways to collaborate. Sometimes, Doug will draft the entire post, and Anna will rework it. Other times, Anna will draft the post, leaving Doug to fill in gaps noted in all-caps or to stylize rather dry paragraphs. We’ve developed a good sense of the voice we’ve created together. Occasionally, a reader who knows us may be able to point a particular sentence that was surely written by one or the other us, but sometimes we laugh that Anna wrote a Doug sentence or vice versa. We have never posted work that we have not both had a hand in creating.
Well, that’s not exactly true. We added guest posts on every first and third Monday, beginning with Chris Cowen, a film producer, on September 27 of last year. (Click HERE for our first guest post.) The variety of our guest list surprises even us: artists, poets, scientists, pilots, and an eighth-grader. On Independence Day, we will post a piece by our twenty-first guest blogger (twenty dates, but we had two guest bloggers on January 17 to commemorate the impending anniversary of the Challenger accident), novelist Margaret Lazarus Dean. We hope to meet Margaret later in the week because she’s a space nerd too and will be at the Space Coast for the last shuttle launch. In a recent email, Margaret said that if we gathered all of the people together for a party who were interested in literature and space exploration, that we probably wouldn’t need a very large room. But, it sure would be a great party. We couldn’t agree more.
A couple of months ago, we began running, on the second and fourth Mondays of the month, the video interviews we’ve accumulated. We started with Mike Coats, astronaut and Director of Johnson Space Center, who grew up in Riverside, California, and reprimands Anna for not having yet visited Disneyland. (Click HERE for out first video interview.) We have a bunch more videos, including the charming Apollo astronaut Charlie Duke, whose eyes light up when he talks about flying.
So you can count on something new at Lofty Ambitions every Wednesday and most Mondays, and sometimes we have extras. In fact, “On Today’s Date: August 29 & 30” continues to attract hits most days; we’re not sure why that little gem has staying power.
Today’s post is number 138. For the arithmetically inclined, that means we’re getting something Lofty to you every 2.65 days. The hits the blog has had in the first six months of this year is more than double the last six months of last year (its first six months). April was the blog’s busiest month; we wrote in earnest and in depth about nuclear energy and started our series “A Launch to Remember” (the CONCLUSION includes links to the whole series, and there’s a post-series photo post.) We consider several of that month’s pieces some of our best work together; by then, our voice had come into its own, and we stretched ourselves. May 16 was our busiest single day; no wonder, as that day featured our brief, shaky, but hard-earned video of Endeavour’s launch and the guest post by aviation museum curator Stewart Bailey. The light-traffic day of the week is usually Saturday, so if you’re surfing the Internet on the weekend, give us a click.
We’re looking forward to our second year here at Lofty Ambitions. We don’t know exactly what we’ll cover over the next year, but we’re giddy about next week’s trip and the new series it will generate. We leave for Florida on Wednesday evening and don’t expect a chance for shut-eye until Friday night. That is, if Atlantis lifts off on time. Keep checking back.