Cleansing the PalateAugust 13, 2009
I used to hate doing puzzles as a kid. Once things progressed beyond those wooden puzzles where the pieces were shaped like animals and all you had to do was correctly identify a horse to solve the puzzle, I found that puzzles were infinitely more frustrating than I had the patience to tolerate. On paper, I’m a smart guy (I guess), but the whole spatial relationships + strategic thinking thing never really resonated with me. Mostly, I just liked finishing, and when it became apparent that you couldn’t finish a 5000 piece puzzle in an hour (unless you were Rain Man), I was done.
My ill-fated research career unfolded in such a similar way that it’s head-slappingly obvious why I’m not using my hard-earned bachelor of science degree. While age and experience taught me an appreciation for the big picture thinking that accompanies the daily drudgery of lab work, it was still infuriating to have to wait to see the tangible results of my work.
This week, the two main points of focus have been a job interview that I had on Tuesday, and a writing project that has slowly turned from a fun exercise into another 5000 piece puzzle or lab experiment. Ironically, part of why I undertook the writing project was to prepare myself for the daily writing of this potentially job. Now, I’m finding it necessary to find other things to write about so that I can return to the project next week with fresh eyes.
The first piece I ever wrote for the Chronicle required 900 words of re-writing after the first draft was labeled as boring. And it was, believe me. But that experience has given me the confidence that I’ll be able to draw some life out of this dry, academic article and make it sing like it’s supposed to sing. At least, that’s the idea. We’ll see how it goes.