Back off, I'm a scientist! (An Insecure Writer's Support Group Post)

I started this blog up to get myself more disciplined about working on my writing (so many cool writing blogs with fun ideas, so much motivation!). In so many ways that's a very funny statement. Although I adored reading once I figured out ABC was more than just a Jackson 5 song, although since for as long as I can remember I enjoyed making up funny stories in my head to pass the time, I never really saw myself as a writer or as even much of a creative person until later in life.

You see, the way the school system I went through was set up, there were certain tracks. I test ridiculously well and got dropped on the math and science track. To say I was good at both subjects would be something of an understatement. But somehow it became all that I was. My identity as Math and Science Goddess was pretty much set in stone and any deviation from that role wasn't taken well. There were no opportunities for me to take art classes of any kind at all in high school and I was strongly discouraged by my peers (and sometimes even my teachers) to branch out in any way. I was told stick to science and math, forget writing. It not only undermined any confidence I had in attempting anything artistic, it made me horrifically arrogant about my math and science aptitude. After all, this was all that I was, could ever be - without that identity, who the heck was I? (Oh gods, there's another story I could tell to go along with that, but I'll save that for another time)

Yes, it is extremely embarrassing that a song from High School 
Musical of all things pretty much captures all the blow back I faced.

So acting on any artistic impulses as an adult required a huge leap of faith. Funnily enough, that was one of the big catalysts that helped me take that leap - finding my spiritual identity as a Pagan. I'll spare you all the boring details, but somewhere in my 30's I got a little braver. I sang. I drew. I danced. Writing was the last frontier. I love words. I love stories. Always have. But it's hard to see myself as a semi-competent writer even after all this time.

I have no great success stories to share. I do have to say I owe a lot to my husband, who always believes in me, and one of my dear friends Absinthe, who is always an enthusiastic test reader. I also need to give a shout out to Magaly Guerrero, who's writing talents I am in awe of and who honors me with her encouragement to keep at it.

If my hubby, Absinthe and Magaly think there might be some decent stories and ideas rattling around my brain, well, I'll be brave and give this a try. Right now I'm just writing to please myself, no heavy expectations or delusions, all the arrogance that accompanied my math and science skills shed like dead skin. I'm trying to focus on having fun with words, on finding those elusive words that really capture what it is I'm trying to express. Yes, I'm very insecure about my ability to adequately express myself. But I also know that I tell my kids that you have to be willing to stink for a bit before you get any good at something. Here's to stinking up the joint, at least for a small while, while I find my voice.


  1. Have you read A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness? I think you have, but I can't quite remember. Well, I'm bringing it up because one of the best things about the book is the lead characters professions: a historian and a scientist.

    They go a bit over the top every now and then (the main character's description of the taste of wine left me nearly catatonic) but they are so true to their backgrounds, when it comes to what they do.

    I enjoy your writing very much. I still close my eyes (and fan my face) when I think of certain "fairy tale." And I believe that the day you choose to write any story that uses all your math knowledge and your science knowledge and what you've discovered in between, well, many of us will jump into the rabbit hole that will be your tale.

    Lewis Carroll was a mathematician, after all, and look how far Alice has gone ;-)

  2. I wish I'd had a little more math brains. :)

    Yes, you are so right, you've got to keep at it. It takes time and when you see how you progress, it will amaze you, you'll actually be able to see a difference in your writing. Just takes time and practice, and a lot of reading in your genre, oh and exploring all these lovely writer's blogs and forums because they've taught me a lot over the years. :)

  3. I totally relate to the math/science thing. I even took that side of me as far as being a math teacher. It was what I was good at, what was expected. I did okay in English, but I was never "superior." I hate that if you don't fall in love with the required reading, or enjoy the mandatory assignments and reports you aren't "creative." I deal with it now with my own children. They aren't fans of the books they are supposed to read and STILL don't get credit for the tons of books off the list they enjoy. But that's a rant for another time.

    Who knew that math/science geeks could have such a creative side right? I hate that it took so long for me to just believe in myself. Maybe one day schools will encourage students to express all sides rather than just the one they test well in.

    Meredith’s Musings

  4. I identify. I gave up all creative endeavors (including my love of singing) in order to follow a science/medical career track so I could get a "real job" and support my family. It took me a while to realize I had lost something vital. Slowly getting my creativity back! Congrats on finding yourself again!!

  5. Hello from IWSG!

    I feel you. It sucks when other people stick you in a box and label it and you spend your whole life trying to pry the lid off so you can get out.

    Bravery is something we have to practice. It's a skill we learn, not an innate ability. You are learning to be brave everyday and by prying the lid off and standing on top of that box, you became a little braver than you had been. Congrats to you for stepping out into the light!

  6. Welcome to the IWSG and thank you for posting.

    I'm a little surprised that your school didn't make you pursue English as much as Math and Science. Even scientists and professors need to publish in their careers eventually. It's a shame it was so one sided.

    But, it's never too late to learn and thrive.

    Immerse yourself. Don't worry about books on writing. Join writing groups or forums. Or start one! People are so much more interesting to learn from than books.

    Keep at it. Keep writing.

    Heather M. Gardner

  7. That school sounds like a nightmare. Students really suffer when pushed into one track, or are measured according to a one size fits all rubric. But you can always belatedly make up for lost time now, and prove your teachers wrong about only having talents in one specific track.

  8. Wow, thank you all for your supportive words! This posting was a bit like standing naked on a stage. I'm thrilled by all the encouragement.

    I also wanted to add a bit of info about my high school as well.

    It was a very small Catholic High school, that had definitely seen better days, enrollment wise. There were no shop classes at all and although there were some fine arts classes, they were never available because of the track I was on. There was a home economics classroom, but whether due to lack of finding a teacher or lack of students enrolled, that class was never taught while I went there. I learned typing on an actual typewriter, even though my generation was at the dawn of the computer age. My English teachers were nice (my favorite teacher of all time was one of my high school English teachers), but the focus was rarely on creative writing and more on writing about themes in literature. Now there were exceptions, but I still remember, with great amusement, how one poetry assignment for the math and science geeks was to write a poem in the style of John Dunne's A Valediction Forbidding Mourning, in that we had to use mathematical or scientific terms to write a love poem.

    The less said about that DNA poem I wrote, the better!

  9. Wonderful...and please keep at it. I had no such skill in math or science, but I was always drawn to the arts. However, I had no encouragement from anyone to pursue the arts in any way. My husband has been a great support when I tried my hand at blogging. I love to see others who do great once they get that encouragement. I look forward to reading more and more from you!