January writing challenge, day 2

I’m doing Sarah K. Peck’s writing challenge each day this month as a way to explore writing and re-dedicate myself to the practice. She also has the option to get writing prompts by email for 21 of those days that i’m going to use. The first one is copied below:

You walk outside and there’s a crowd of people standing there, cheering your name. As you stare at them, they cheer louder and more people join in. What are they cheering for?

I have no idea why anyone would react to anything I’ve done. Attention, praise, and being seen are generally terrifying prospects for me.

If I’m fantasizing about the world where such applause takes place, then perhaps I’ve just given a good talk, an extraordinary one where both speaker and audience are in sync with one another and the room has a good energy. A perfect merger of speaker content and audience.

The energy I’ve put into talking about mental health, trying to become more of an expert in communicating science, reading up on science policy with respect to the scientific workforce/enterprise, and diversity the last few years feel like I could deliver a decent talk on them- except the latter. I still do not think it’s a good look for a white male to be talking about diversity to an audience (no matter how expert in the topic).

And who is this audience that resonates wth my message?

In the plant science world, it’s still hard to conceive of a writer or scientist that would be a Neil deGrasse Tyson like figure for publicly communicating plant science (it might be nice to be that person though).

Even more limited, I have stage fright in many ways. I don’t like standing in front of people giving talks. So what else might people cheer me for?

Perhaps I’ve just won a quiet competition.

I won ‘best listener’ at my company. And that really matters at my future place of employment.

I wrote a great essay somewhere and it won an award, though from where I sit right now, I do not fee like an award winning writer.




Author: Ian Street

Ian is a plant scientist and science writer relating stories of plant science and scientists on his blog, The Quiet Branches as well as other outlets. You can find him on Twitter @IHStreet.

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