Active Transition.

There’s no good sense of when I’m on my way to something good and sustainable in life.

At least when it comes to me assessing my career as I work to transition to ‘something’ new (that I would love to be in the writing and editing world if possible).

I’ve put a lot of energy into being a thoughtful writer, a better editor, and otherwise being a contributor to conversations I care about/have something to say about while learning as much as possible along the way.

In some ways, this focus on communication is utterly ridiculous and such a stupid thing to pursue given the economics of the media/writing/communications world right now. In some ways, it’s a golden age of science communication, which is a good thing, but at the same time it seems like everyone out there in the world is a talented communicator of science or trying to be. It feels like being a small fish in a big pond.

I’d rather be at least a bigger fish in the small pond. Or a small fish in a big, but yet mostly empty pond.

This year, more than any other, I think I’ve proven I can work with editors,  make deadlines, and actually interview people to some extent (I’ve done all three and am going to be doing more). It’s been sort of fun, but exhausting, pushing myself in these new directions. I still feel like I have a lot to learn.

I’ve even started pitching things places, or been offered to pitch places (which I need to do).

I do not want to go back to school unless absolutely necessary. My feeling is the only reason to do so would be to network. It almost seems as if that is what universities are for: expensive networking hubs, since we can learn a lot on our own with the internet these days. I know there’s more to unis than that, but it seems like increasingly they are ‘pay to access the next level’ (that may not pay off).

And as I gain experience in some new fields or just say yes to writing opportunities and make the content happen, it feels like I’m doing the work I actually really do enjoy doing and am getting tools to do it.

I’m not great at it, but I really enjoy graphic design/Photoshop/illustrator.

Transitions are hard and unfortunately take time. And they require a lot of input of energy into taking risks (or things that feel that way).

I do still have the Shawshank Redemption thought– can I make it on ‘the outside’? Beyond academia will be different, no doubt.

I’ve had a glimpse of just how different in the few job interviews I’ve had this year. There has been a drift toward that world. However, I also wonder if me working from home, largely on my own, might suit me best. It would be nice to have colleagues I see regularly.

What is true is that I am fighting pretty hard to gain experience in the professional world I want to occupy. Up to a point. I could join the National Association of Science Writers, and yet, I haven’t. I’m not sure that I really belong yet. I could network more- locally and nationally/internationally.

I actually do like being a member and getting involved in society activities. I’ve been doing digital communications at the Plant Biology conference the last few years. And this year will be no exception. I’m going to be even more ambitious this year than in year’s past.

Things seem to be happening. I don’t know where it’s all going, but there seems to be activity happening. May this transition land me on solid footing.





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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