Triticum Turgidum

Lying Dormant and Waiting to Bloom Since 2005

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Location: The Prairie, Illinois, United States

I am a beauty-loving ambidextrous higher-order primate who learned transcendental meditation at 7, statistical analysis at 23, tap dancing at 30, and piano at 35. I tolerate gluten, lactose, and differences of opinion, but not abuse. Or beets.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Ceci n'est pas un auteur

When the demands of life become so pressing that the block of time you have to devote to your occupation(s) shrinks into near-nothingness, two things become crystal clear:

1) what you like to do
2) what you don't like to do

What you like to do energizes and revives you, and makes you excited about what you do. What you don't like to do depletes you.

I have come to realize that I don't like to write. I'm not a natural writer. I have no talent whatsoever for writing. I love to read, and have since I was a kid, but loving to eat doesn't make one a chef. I've learned to "pass" as a writer because I have to for my job. But I dread writing. I'm a right-brain thinker. As a research scientist, I love devising study designs. I love collecting data. I love statistical data analysis. I love making charts and graphs to present the data. But I don't love writing up the findings; it's just something I have to do to get the fruits of my labor out there for public consumption.

I received academic tenure a few years ago, and since then I've been getting requests to write chapters for books edited by colleagues I like and admire. I want to please them. So I've said yes. And in so doing, I guaranteed that the last year, and probably the next one, was and will be spent in agony. All I do lately, it seems, is write. Writing, which depletes me, has crowded out the aspects of my job that revive me.

As negative as this post seems (I had to write it, after all, so I wasn't in the best of moods), coming to this realization was actually a wonderful thing. It's like a weight off my shoulders, to admit that I don't like writing, that I'm not a natural writer, and that, frankly, I don't really care. There are two steps to crafting a satisfying life for oneself:

1) figuring out what you want to do
2) figuring out how to do as much of it as possible

At least now I've got #1 down.


Anonymous jonniker said...

We are the exact opposite. I love to write -- I love to write ideas and construct sentences, and edit and think about different ways to put things. It energizes and pleases me immensely.

But data collection? Abstract ideas? CHARTS? It all makes me physically ill. So much so that a therapist once asked me if I was dropped on my right side as an infant, so depleted is that mode of thinking in my brain.

11:46 AM, August 23, 2007  
Blogger WinterWheat said...

Jonna -- I know, and it shows. The fact that you love to write is, er, WRITTEN all over your blog. It's great fun to read the writing of someone who loves to write, and easy to identify it.

I posted a while ago about having a masculine digit ratio which is related to right-brain development in utero. Now I see that my daughter has the same finger configuration. She-males unite! (kidding)

12:03 PM, August 23, 2007  
Blogger violetnoir said...

Well one down, one to go.

Sounds like a good start to me!


3:48 PM, August 23, 2007  
Blogger PFG said...

Hey, you're back! Yay!

I like writing, and yet when it comes to paper writing (as in for publication), I tend to take to it like a fish to sand. Off the top of my head, I'd say my biggest hang up in academic writing is insecurity.

Wish I liked data crunching more. Design, yes. Analysis, somewhat (it's like enjoying the cupcakes but perhaps not adoring the sifting and frosting part). But the utter adoration of playing with data is not something that grabs me like it does some.

There's gotta be some call for the data folks. Because there are so many people for whom the deep analytical is a nearly impenetrable foreign language. I guess this last bit is my way of saying I have some hope for your being able to implement part two of your plan.

9:55 PM, August 23, 2007  
Anonymous barbatia said...

We really could be excellent friends IRL.

barbatia aka Barbara Noblog

12:58 PM, August 27, 2007  
Blogger mireille said...

well, actually, you do have talent as a writer. Because you are honest and you can convey your honesty. I love you for it. xoxo

1:32 PM, October 07, 2007  

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