There’s always a running joke amongst benchmonkeys that goes something like, “If this whole science thing doesn’t work out, then I’ll…”
- Open a coffee shop in Hawaii
- Run a restaurant/bakery
- Start a combination icecream/cocktail truck (that will make stops at all area research institutes)
- Run for Congress
- Work for the FBI/CIA/NSA
Such commentaries are born out of long-held dreams, hobbies, or unexpected skills acquired during our careers, among other things. What’s my thing? I would be a writer.
For many, writing is tantamount to torture. Not for me. I love to tell stories. Reality, fiction. Science, adventure, drama. Short, long. An audience of one or 100. It doesn’t really matter. I tell stories as much to enrich and satisfy myself as I do to inform or entertain others.
It’s something that started at a young age, though I didn’t realize it then. And to an extent, my brother is partly to blame. I was a ravenous reader, and the sort who places herself in the story, experiencing it, not just observing it from the outside. When we were kids, my brother and I would create and enact scenes of ongoing stories (often Star Trek inspired spin offs, and for that, I blame my dad who basically had us hooked from birth). At one point, my brother even wrote a script that the three of us (dad, bro, and myself) read… dramatically… with distinct voices for each character. (Explains a little something about me, perhaps? ) I think that was the first time that I ever considered writing because I wanted to, not because I had a class assignment. And I did just that. In high school, I started writing stories (or typing them, as the case may be). I fell in love with writing. By nature, I am rather quiet and reserved. I tend to internalize emotions. But for some reason, I found that I could pour an immense amount of emotion into a page. Much like reading, I put much of myself into the story, even if the story itself was far different from my life. Often I wrote them for an audience of one (myself) or with the intention of only sharing them with a few friends. Occasionally I would co-opt my creative writing for a class.
Somewhere along the way, I found that I could even take pleasure in writing about someone else’s work, in telling someone else’s story, in connecting seemingly disparate findings. Finding the thread that connects or unravels a list of points is as much a part of telling a story as creating a new one. Even when the process is difficult, frustrating, maybe even painful (at least, mentally), there is something amazing and beautiful about turning dry, disconnected information into a lively, cohesive narrative.
Writing and science are where my passion lies. I am fortunate that these two often come together. If you took away science, I could subsist on writing. If you took away the writing and the creative process that goes with it, I would be hard-pressed to subsist on science alone. And I suspect that is something that will direct my career path in the years to come.