a conversation with Pyracantha of Electron Blue

One of the things I like best about blogging is how it has brought interesting new people into my life.

Pyracantha,

> I was so impressed that you were able to make
> money from your writing. I thought that nobody did
> that.

That’s a common fallacy, to think there’s no money in
writing. There’s no money in FICTION writing, but
those who are willing to write nonfiction can make not
only a living, but a very good one. Novelists are
usually poor; people who write for big corporations
are not. Some writers make things up, and some write
about what already exists. It’s a lot easier for the
latter to make a living.

My friend the landscaper told me that I could never
make a living from writing, and that writing was
something people only did part-time. I out-earned him
after only a few months. I know (or know OF) plenty
of people who make cushy incomes from writing
full-time.

> I admire you so much for going back to college in
> your
> “middle” (37?) years. I thought of doing it
> but
> I think that my non day-job time is best spent doing
> art rather than trying to get another degree.

Then your time probably is best spent that way. You
clearly are able to teach yourself (something I can’t
do). I had to go the formal route, and was young
enough to think it worth my while.

Have you ever considered taking a class at a local
college? I love the resource of the math tutoring
lab, where I have math Ph.D.’s and retired teachers
explain things to me to my heart’s content.

> I will
> be very interested if you actually go into some form
> of professional science.

Unfortunately I don’t yet know much about where I’ll
end up, which bothers me, as I don’t think that’s much
of a life-plan. But I am no longer happy with the
writing I do, and will never be able to live with
myself unless I take this journey, one so long
delayed.

But it’s becoming apparent to me that my math chops
may be lacking, and that my talents lie to a far
greter extent with writing and explanation. So there
may be some “compromise” — like being a science
writer — for me down the road. It’s a possibility
that does not frighten me.

> As far as I have observed,
> professional scientists have to start young and toil
> for 20 years to get to any serious research, rather
> like Olympic athletes.

If I were looking for no other way into science than
pure research, that would worry me! But there are so
many other things to do — like teach, like do
science writing, like work in one of the local
chemistry labs… And 20 years sounds a bit extreme
— if it were true, there’d be no research scientists
under the age of 50 or so! Maybe this is true of the
Fermilab scientists, but not true across the board?

I have an appointment coming up soon with my college
advisor. He is, of course, an academic, but surely he
can shed some light on how long it takes to get a
career going in pure research. I’ll be sure to ask,
and to share what I learn.

> I am rather overawed by the world of professional
> scientists (especially physicists) anyway. They seem
> like superheroes to me, climbing 14,000 foot
> mountains
> one day and solving the secrets of the universe the
> next.

I can’t help but wonder if they’d see you the same
way, with your powers of imagination and creating art.
If they don’t, they probably need to. They also
serve who explore the world of myth and imagination.

> Thank you ever so much for reading the Electron
> regularly. It means a great deal to me that there
> are
> other people sort of like me out there.

I truly enjoy your site, and am so glad to find
someone else out there with talents and interests in
the two very different fields of art and science.

I myself am a knitter and former musical theatre
performer who is a writer and word-person. Words are
my way of processing the world. I’m not your typical
person studying higher math and science. It means a
lot to me too find another who moves in two different
worlds.

Jennifer

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