(Dimensional Interface, acrylic on board 14″x18″, copyright © 2007 Pyracantha)
Well, I’m now a Mass Comm major, and even my old chemistry prof is wishing me well. And I’ve begun to dissect why on EARTH I didn’t do this sooner. My God.
And I think that it’s because I have no desire to become a print journalist, and to my mind, a major in Mass Communications was a major in journalism which meant a life in print journalism, which doesn’t appeal to me at all. If I wanted to become a journalist, with my background I’d probably just point my work in that direction. But I don’t want to focus on that kind of work. I’ve tried it and I don’t like it as much as I do other things. And I wonder if this isn’t a fundamental problem of many people who are interested in writing — thinking that journalism, freelancing and fiction comprise the whole of the world of writers.
I am coming to realize that writing is richer and stranger and gnarlier than that. That’s just not all that there is. I avoided a formal education as a writer because I thought it was preparing me for a life of print journalism. Newspaper writing. Magazine writing. The complex world of writing, it seems, is easy underestimated and misunderstood.
In fact, I was confused for a long time in my twenties because I loved writing and I knew was good at it and others encouraged me at every turn, but I had a terrible time as I struggled into my field, because I first had to learn that writing is more than fiction. I honestly didn’t really understand that. It didn’t really occur to me for some time that there was anything else to do with my talent other than write novels and stories, something I have no talent for.
It took me a long time to realize that the world of freelancing even existed, and that “writing” didn’t mean writing novels and prose. When I discovered nonfiction writing and freelancing, I was reborn.
And here I am reborn again! After six years of professional writing, I see that “nonfiction writing” is more than freelancing and print journalism, the staples of my income. It can be television writing — documentary writing and educational writing. It can be scriptwriting for the very sophisticated educational videos being made nowadays. I am very excited by the advances in computer animation and their applications in scientific visualization, particularly as it pertains to education. I think I’d do well writing scripts for CGI animations that explain things to people, to students. I myself would have benefited tremendously from being able to learn in this way.
And here’s my big scary dream. I also want to explore writing TV fiction — writing a series. I used to love books and literature, but as I grow older, it’s my romance with TV that deepens. Which is an odd development for someone who lived her life in books for a decade or more, and who doesn’t have cable or even network TV (but not really a strange development for someone who has seen every episode of Star Trek: TNG). You can watch a lot of TV online, and rent a lot on DVD, and that’s what I do. Experiencing TV in this way keeps my watching very intentional, very mindful, very nutritious. Very choosy, very respectful of the best that the medium has to offer, like Deadwood, and Six Feet Under, and Battlestar Galactica and Doctor Who. I can’t write prose fiction, but could I write television fiction? I really would like to try.
When I look at writing as being all of these exciting things — writing for a quality cable series, writing documentaries like the Walking With… series that I loved so, writing for moving and meaningful nonfiction television like the BBC genealogy program Who Do You Think You Are?, writing becomes a very exciting enterprise again! Thank God. Much more enticing than working on newspaper or magazine articles, which I have done but which I don’t care to place my career focus on.
Science writing romanced me, so much so that I was able to put aside my trepidation about print journalism — I mean, print journalism would have gone down pretty well with a spoonful of nerds and learning interesting science as part of the job. Science sugar-coated and opiated my disenchantment with print journalism. So that’s how I ended up as a science writer — quite logically, as a writer who loved science. And this is how I ended up as a Mass Comm major — when my science education fell apart, what I at last faced my distate for the world of journalism, when I overwhelmingly began to remember the worlds I loved even before I loved before science, the worlds of of art and theatre and performance. Of science fiction and literature.
My nice chem prof tells me that he was a music major, then a physics major, and then a chemistry major. Sometimes there is pleasure in not being unique. All you who struggle as I do, I’ve always got you on my mind. This blog is a public record of one person’s life meant to help you, whoever you are. Call it Contentment, Satisfaction and Happiness in Several Thousand Extremely Difficult Lessons.
My name is Jennifer. I am a writer, but I do not like print journalism that much and don’t plan on making it a focus of my working life. My one sweet life, so much of it spent working. I think that I am going to try to be a slippery guerilla writer, and come at writing from strange angles, and find a way maybe to involve CGI, dinosaurs, science fiction, music and other things I like way more than working in a newsroom or grinding out a science article.
This is the change I felt rumbling in my soul all winter long, sending out thermonuclear vibrations I sensed for weeks, making me nervy and miserable and half crazy with strange new hopes that seemed like hatefully impossible dreams. It was my soul being fed up with its life, imprisoned in the cold machine of my dead ambition. It was rebellion from within.