Ernest Alanki author of The Chocolate Shop Perverts tells us how the start of a scientific paper led to the start of his writing career….
I do not remember when I wrote my first story, but I remember writing and losing many. I recall that my first attempt at writing a novel coincided with the drafting of my first science article as part of my PhD studies. I was so proud of this article I showed it to a senior colleague.
“This is not a science article,” he said.
“What do you mean?”
“It’s a story.”
“Nice isn’t it?” I said proudly.
“No!” he replied with a deep frown. “No good science magazine will publish anything of the sort.”
“But the data is valid.”
“It doesn’t matter,” he went on. “This is not how science is written.”
Pompous maniac, retarded fool; I thought to myself. How could he not have seen the poetry, the elegance of the words, metaphors, brilliant sentences and paragraphs? How could he not have seen—?
Then it hit me. The stern critic had just handed me my first feedback as a potential writer.
As a scientist, writing has pushed me into looking at the character of my work, to details that would never have been possible: structure, clarity, roundedness and so on. Science on the other hand has instructed me on the virtues of patience, consistency and absorbing critique. Above all, one, two, three revisions are no longer good enough. Writers, like budding scientists, should not expect to gather a crowd of followers from the very beginning. Your readers are too busy looking for holes in your work, because human nature wants to avoid boredom and stupidity.
My colleague was right. I had to rewrite my science article many times over. While doing this, I was all the time thinking I had created a skeleton filled with scientific jargon, but gave it no soul. Then I realized the soul was right there…it was the beauty of the findings that mattered.
I took a proud copy of my finished paper to the critic. He looked at it and said, “You nailed it!”
“You were inspiring,” I said, then quickly added, “I’m writing a novel.”
He looked at me, first with disdain and then he brightened up and said, “You’ll do just fine.”
The Chocolate Shop Perverts is available on HopeRoad.