Don’t bother with waterproofs in Georgia. Get caught in a summer thunderstorm and you’re getting soaked. Waterproofs just leave you at the uncomfortable ‘partially-damp & itchy’ level of wetness. Let the rain soak you instead: it’s less like being under a warm shower; more like floating in a warm bath. I’ve been caught in those thunderstorms when I was out walking. The sidewalks turned to rivers – I splashed along up to my ankles in lukewarm water. Atlanta drivers – oblivious at the best of times – sent plumes of water breaking over me as they passed. By the time I got home to towel down the rain had stopped, the sun was pounding down, and half the deluge had already evaporated.
Southern thunderstorms are quite something. I love them.
I’m dealing with a professional upheaval right now. I’m not in a place where I can talk about it (yet) because (i) I don’t want to jinx the good stuff (ii) hindsight makes it easier to write an intelligible account that people would actually want to read.
Anyway. Here’s a bullet point summary of the things I’m balancing that I can talk about:
- Communication & Marketing for Women in Bio-ATL. They’re a professional organisation bringing together all “bio” and “bio-related” folk for networking/professional development. I’m creating event flyers & email promo.
- Emory Postdoc Science Writers Fall 2018 magazine. I’m reprising my role as Editor for a “microbiome”-themed issue. It’s great to see the postdoc team grow in confidence with their science writing: tackling unfamiliar topics, longer article forms, letting their personalities come through (we’re often taught to repress personality in our academic writing).
- Wikipedia Fellows Women in Science cohort. There are several programs trying to boost the representation of female scientists on Wikipedia. The Wikipedia Fellows program is being rolled out by WikiEdu, targeting scientists who belong to professional organisations (e.g. the American Chemical Society). So I’ve been part of a summer program learning how to edit Wikipedia – something I’ve never thought much about, but is easier than I imagined. I’ve expanded several “stub” articles, and created a brand new Wikipedia entry for a scientist in my field whose omission from the platform was suitably glaring.
- Freelance science writing. I had an article idea I felt inspired to pitch to an online science magazine. Much to my surprise I received a reply several days later encouraging me to submit the full thing. It’s a beast: I’m chasing down scientists in 4 countries for interviews, and collecting lots of crunchy numbers to back up the point(s) I’m trying to make (not all of the information is displayed to the public). This kind of science writing exercise gives me a massive kick – it’s stressful, but it activates so many regions of my brain at once. I can only hope the article inside my head eventually matches what I commit to writing.
It’s a busy time. Evidently I like being busy. You’d hope I would.
Beneath the bubble and frenzy is an undercurrent of fear and anxiety. I’m trying to reposition myself into a new professional lane, aware that I don’t have the luxury of unlimited funds or time. I’ve also got plenty of handicaps that make getting what I want harder than it would be for others. The stakes are higher in some of the projects than others. If my freelance article gets accepted it’ll make it easier for me to successfully pitch future stories (editors always look for previous published work). If the article is killed it brings me back to where I was before, with an additional dent in my self-confidence. It’ll also decelerate my income flow, which is I need to keep a tight watch over.
I know the point I lose confidence and momentum is when I’ll fall. So I’m pushing forward and filling up my Moleskine planner with reminders, deadlines & To Do lists. It’s been several years since I wanted to fight for a city with the ferocity I’m fighting for Atlanta. That alone tells me I should fight harder.