Even after the years an English teacher who saw fit to dole out that criticism to me, I cannot shake it from my memory. It came after I expressed my frustration at not being able to work out the symbolism of a Shakespeare play. I didn’t burst into tears and nor did I reply back. I met the unfriendly gaze from my English teacher and glared. A silent challenge daring them to send me to the principal’s office. I didn’t get sent out of class. I had to endure 30 minutes of sniggering from other students and that was resulted in me fighting back tears despite assurances from my friends that the teacher was being unfair.
This year has been an incredible journey. I have to thank people for believing in me more than I believed in myself for pushing me gently into the world of professional science writing and getting my work published. I want to first acknowledge Marisa Wikramanayake who started to badger me in early 2010 to start writing. Every time I saw her the topic of me writing came up.
I spent early 2011 at the Australian Science Media Centre as a student intern for a month where I saw firsthand what the media cycle was like. Whatever you think it is, multiply that by 100 and you might be close. There were some intense moments where I juggled transcribing statements from scientists, keeping up with live news crosses and getting journalists in touch with scientists all to get a science related news out there. It was a buzz to see news stories which I had a hand in helping being broadcast or being published in print and online.
This year I started blogging on chemistry and putting the links out there on Twitter and the next thing I knew, Michael Gosney, Manager of Multimedia and IT at Scitech, pushed me towards writing for Science Network WA and gave me a number to call. I held off calling the number for a week. I made the call after my boyfriend pointed out that I do write well and my blog posts on chemistry get attention from non-chemists and said that I should take the opportunity.
The best discovery this year is that I’ve come in contact with other chemists who also write articles. I read their work regularly and not just study the chemistry news but also writing styles and better ways of explaining concepts. I have also found that there is a vast number of sources of chemistry news out there. I have finally stopped letting what an English teacher said years preventing me from becoming a writer.
I do not think I would be able to write about science without my science training. I definitely would not be able to at times explode in frustration at poorly written articles on chemistry and then right the wrongs. I never thought that I would find a job that I would enjoy without wearing a lab coat where I am able to call upon my chemistry skills.
That English teacher was wrong about me. I am good at science and I am good at English. I also understand Shakespeare now and even like it. So there.
- My hero: Primo Levi by Siddhartha Mukherjee (guardian.co.uk)