I am, at the time of this writing, 23 years old. I’ve spent all of those years on scholastic pursuits, of which 2007-2011 was spent obtaining my degrees in chemistry and biomolecular science, and the time since has been spent working on my chemistry PhD.
I thought I knew what I wanted a long time ago. I thought I wanted to work on nanotechnology and save the world- “cure” cancer and all that. But science is a demanding and unrewarding field, and the years have made it more abundant that 1) I am not cut out for research and 2) it’s damned hard to make an impact with the huge inflow of new material every day. You work and work only to find a paper that has beaten you to the punch, or you get lost amidst the other hundreds of papers focused on the same little detail. I know it ultimately makes a difference to add to the collective- but that is a difference I want to leave to someone else to make.
So what will I do with myself? I don’t know. Maybe I’ll use my PhD to make a difference in another field: teaching. When I was a four year old in ballet classes, I wanted not to become a ballerina, but to become a ballet teacher. The medium changed: art, english, elementary, chemistry… but the passion didn’t. My contribution to science will be to teach it.
But that’s still not my dream. But that story requires that I back up a bit.
It was fifth grade, and I was rowdy. I got detention all the time. The teacher was new and didn’t know what to do with me. My mom told her to threaten to move me to a corner by myself. I shut up. But it wasn’t enough. I wasn’t challenged or interested or at the intellectual level of my peers; but I wasn’t emotionally mature enough to move up to a higher grade. Sixth grade came along, and I found an out: I started writing.
It started off… poorly. But what 10 year old can write well? It was about a girl that discovered she was an alien and became their queen.
Eighth grade was the biggest stride of my young life. There were enough gifted 8th grade students that we had our own advanced math and science (being from NY, that means we got put into math A1 and living environment, beginning regents level studies). But our special schedules meant we needed other classes too, so our social studies and English classes were filled with the same groups of students. And the teachers loved it.
My English teacher was Mr. Friedrich, and he changed my life. My new project was about a world with elves and vampires and all means of creatures, and their world was tied to ours as well as the world one of my friends created in her own project. It was… you know, I don’t think there’s a word in English that can even describe how awful it was. Painful, even. But he read it, during his interrupted lunch break, and he was patient and encouraging.
That world bloomed into something beautiful. I abandoned a lot of the stupider concepts, but it’s a trilogy-in-progress that can grow into a much larger series, some day. I’ve spent probably 8-10 years on the current project, and others have bloomed up around it. I started writing short stories because I finally got the courage to write some for a project in my senior year’s honors class.
After a few of my friends died, well before their time, I realized I wanted to be proud of myself, and happy, and have no regrets. A depressing phone call with my mother made me realize she was right: it wouldn’t get better. Unless I did something about it.
So I signed up for Writer’s Digest. And I signed up for AuthorHouse news.
On July 25, at 4:40pm, I received a phone call. It was an outreach call, from AuthorHouse. We talked for just over 15 minutes about what sort of material I wrote, their success with publishing it, and reading recommendations. It was standard procedure for them, I’m sure, but it meant the world to me.
I’m here to see where I go from here. Correction: we. We’re in this together.
[To “da hataz”: please see my comment below, with regards to the information above and its appropriate usage.]