Okay, so today I don’t really know what I want to write about, so I am just going to do a little free writing.
When I was younger I always knew what I wanted to be. And it most certainly wasn’t a writer.
When I was 8 years old, my wonderful school librarian suggested that I read a certain book. She thought it might be something that would interest me. It changed my world. It was called Shark Lady: The Real Life Adventures of Eugenie Clark. by Anne McGovern. I still have it as a matter of fact. Signed by Dr. Eugenie Clark herself.
Yes, when I was eight years old I decided I wanted to be a shark biological researcher. And that has never changed.
Through the years I devoured everything I could find on sharks, books, videos, scientific paper, even Shark Week.
My obsession with sharks, and Marine Biology in general continued through high school, and then on to college. I went away to school to Coastal Carolina University. I had amazing experiences there. I got to know a wonderful shark biologist named Dan Abel. He helped to take me under his wing and kind of taught me ropes around school.
I participated in Dolphin Watch, the Marine Sciences Club and actually went on a field expedition. I spent 6 days on the NOAA (National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration) FERREL. That was definitely one of the best things I have experienced in my life.
I had to leave South Carolina. It’s a long story, but I had to leave.
When I went back to Virginia I enrolled in Virginia Commonwealth University and took up the study of Biology in hopes that I would be able to go to a Marine Sciences Graduate school.
Problem is, I got sick. Then married. Then pregnant. Then sick. Finally I had to come to the realization that I was never going to be able to do the thing I wanted most in the world. I was never going to be a researcher on a vessel sailing through the seas. I was never going to be able to get my hands dirty in the stomach of a shark to find out what it ate. I would never be able to even do molecular taxonomy using mRNA on the Cnidarians (jellyfish) like I wanted to. (For you not in the science know, that’s classification of relationships between different species of jellyfish using a version of DNA)
So what was I going to do now? At this point, I was 34, married, with a child just starting school. What was I going to do with my time now that all my dreams were shattered into a billion pieces like a mirror thrown to the floor?
I did not give up my dreams without a fight, but then figured out that maybe another dream could take its place.
When I was in high school, and then in college I wrote a few short stories. Nothing much, and never polished. Just a little bit of Science Fiction to fill up a few boring hours. I liked writing, but I never considered it more than that, after all, I was going to be a shark researcher right?
I was sitting outside my house one day, not too long after I had to leave school for the last time. I saw a high school girl walking through the woods across the street. I wondered what would happen if something came after her from the woods. I thought about the Invertebrate Zoology Lab I had taken and thought that maybe a parasite could do something.
I mused about it for a long time, kind of thought it out in my head, even got a plot idea.
Soon all that was left was putting something down on paper. I did a character sketch on my female main character. I decided she needed to be in her 20’s and the doctor needed to be in his 30’s. Next was the writing.
This actually turned out easier than I could have believed. I typed out an 80,000 word novel in 3 months. Then the editing…well I’m still doing that. But I found out something. My mind has been painting stories for me my entire life. Now I just have to write them down. And I do. I always seem to be on the laptop writing something new, while still working on something old. My imagination has hit its stride, and my writing is following.
I see story ideas everywhere now, and have to jot them down to keep track of them all.
So, I went from scientist to writer in one step. And it wasn’t nearly as hard as I thought it would be. They both require the same discipline, attention to detail, and thinking outside the box.
Science and Writing. Two different things that have nothing in common on first glance, but in reality, they are very much the same. And I have been blessed to do both.