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Blown away!
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Thanks...
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I wish that I knew what I know now...
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For Science's Sake, Pay Attention
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Give us something to talk about
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Blogging with substance-which substance, we won't say
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Living in The Void: Healthcare
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biochem belle

Research-and careers therein-rarely follows a linear path. Instead, it is often a long and winding road. These are stories about science and my personal experiences on this road.

My posts are presented as opinion and commentary and do not represent the views of LabSpaces Productions, LLC, my employer, or my educational institution.

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Nov 07, 2010, 4:50pm
Wednesday, October 6, 2010

My apologies for being uncharacteristically late to the party... or rather for showing up while everyone else is cleaning the Doritos out of the couch and tossing the empty beer bottles in the bin.

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? Wink) 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.

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Nikkilina
Washington University School of Medicine
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It's really cool that you are able to explore the writing side of yourself through blogging.


Dr Becca, Ph.D.
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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.

I feel exactly the same way.


Odyssey
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Very cool.


Thomas Joseph
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I applied for a CIA job once. Got through the first round of interviews but it took forever. They're definitely not quick about their interview process. Once I found out it'd be a couple of months before the next interview (and there were probably at least one or two more after that) and I was already getting good job offers, I figured the CIA could wait until a time where I had a stable job and didn't have to worry about the length of time between interviews.


Prof-like Substance
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The good news is that, as a PI, you write more than you ever thought possible.


JanedeLartigue
UC Davis
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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.

Like Dr Becca, I feel exactly the same way.  Like you, I think this will govern my future career path.  One thing that's been bothering me recently as I try my hand at some science writing is that there are so many others out there, so much competition, and most of it is incredibly talented.  i've been wavering in my conviction thinking 'what if I'm not good enough'.  But this sentiment sums it up really, it's what I love doing, am passionate about and it makes me very happy, which working in the lab does not, and surely that's all that matters, right?


biochem belle
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PlS, so I hear. It's perhaps one of the reasons that career path appeals to me. My interest in writing and weaving things together has made me realize that I could never be very happy working solely as a benchmonkey. It's certainly shaping options I am considering for plans B, C, D...

Janede, I understand that perspective, and it's something I'm taking into account for plans B, C, etc. I think that writing about science doesn't necessarily require you to be a science writer (in the journalism/publishing sense). There seem to be other opportunities at journals--editors often right highlights and meeting synopses--and for grantwriting. Things to think about, for sure.

Nikkilina, I agree Smile It's one of the reasons I started blogging in the first place.


Namnezia
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Nice post! I do find that writing a blog is much more enjoyable than writing grants, maybe because my livelihood does not depend on it.


Jason Goldman
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I love that you're a Star Trek nerd :-)


biochem belle
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Jason Goldman said:

I love that you're a Star Trek nerd :-)

We were the kids with the toy phasers and tricorders Laughing We also recorded (old-school VHS, for the youngsters out there) and retained for years every episode of TNG... and I think DS9 too.


Dr. O
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Great post! I absolutely couldn't do science without the writing component. Every time I write a grant/paper, I learn so much more about what I'm doing and why I'm doing it. Having time away from the bench to sort through my project is indispensable for my happiness and effectiveness in this career. Maybe one of the reasons I, too, have been so attracted to the PI route. ;-)


Professor in Training
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Wait ... there were Doritos? And nobody told me?


biochem belle
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Don't blame me, PiT. There was nothing but a bag of crumbs when I got here.

JanedeLartigue
UC Davis
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Janede, I understand that perspective, and it's something I'm taking into account for plans B, C, etc. I think that writing about science doesn't necessarily require you to be a science writer (in the journalism/publishing sense). There seem to be other opportunities at journals--editors often right highlights and meeting synopses--and for grantwriting. Things to think about, for sure.

Definitely things to think about, great advice. I'm trying my hand at every kind of science writing I can at the moment, all I know is I love to write!  There might even be a sci fi novel in me somewhere, watch this space!


biochem belle
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D'oh!!! Becca, I went to click the quote button on your "professional doritos tester" comment and accidentally hit delete instead! I'm so sorry!!! (Perhaps, Brian, we should have an "Are you sure you want to delete this post?" pop-up for the occasionally half-witted such as myself. Also if you can restore the comment, Overlord, I shall be most humbly grateful.)

Back to whether "professional doritos tester" is a job... actually it is, or at least something similar. A labby once had a temp job where they mixed new flavors for a chip company.

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