A Good Days Work: Science Writer

it was lovely and very different than from what I expected.

After writing 3 blog posts this morning (one here, two over at the knitting blog) and loosing myself a bit here talking about sweaters, I was too tired to do my thing right away. There’s this window of time you see, when I get energy from my breakfast but before the hard digesting begins. It’s about 45 minutes long which is the time that a stomach needs to process a moderate bowl of food. After that the small intestines go to work, you know, the part with the pancreas/gallbladder/liver. It’s where the main uptake of nutriënts takes place and it’s a very busy time for the body, hard work. I usually have to lay down for that. Otherwise no digestion, no nutrition, more illness. My belly starts to ‘sing’ (bloop!blblblop!) which is the sign it is working. But no horizontal resting, no singing.

So I took my rest, did more knitting and waited untill I would bounce back. This happened at around 2 o’clock so I stood up, washed my face (if I have not done this by the time ‘ingestion-nap’ sets in I have to wait.) and prepared my desk. Ready to go to work!

looks quite ‘alternative’ for a down to earth engineer/writer doesn’t it?

that’s Frau Holle on the wall; my bird watching binoculars on the cat’s thingy; théine free Lady Grey tea with cream in a handmade mug and a free style knitted cushion inspired by Mary Walker Phillips. Knitting for engineers, be sure!

On the left is my notebook with the notes I made while reading my sources for the last few months. You see I have colour coded a few because I plan to have four approaches to bacteria. This will be four books, four papers or four elaborate chapters. We’ll see. I opened my writing pad, it’s on the right there, rotated a bit. That is because I don’t write in a horizontal line, I write vertical, from bottom to top. Usually my pad is rotated even more than this when I write on it… don’t know why. Don’t care.

on a separate piece of paper I jotted down the general outline of the paper, it’s on one of the two cards on the right. I am pleased that this outline is not a very logical one. It’s not scientific in approach, it’s not describing the problem, describing the context, describing solutions and end with conclusions. No, it’s more whimsical. There are about 30 main paths this paper can follow, in structure. Paths like the scientific one I described above. Or a diary. Or historic overview. I just chose one subject I want to start with and followed it up with another and another. It is now an indication of chapters that I cannot defend but I really like it. I am looking forward to put some wordy flesh on these structural bones.

And then the words wouldn’t come…

Those first words. The first alinea. The jumping block from which the rest would flow.

I tinkered around a bit, tried some starts. Dug up some more figures up online. It was not that it was a blank canvas that hindered me, I knew exactly what that first alinea would have to say. It was that I could not find the exact words I was looking for. I was not funny and witty from the get go.

So I stood up and walked around the room, fiddling with this and that. Sitting again. Writing a sentence. Crossing it. Checking twitter. Fiddle a bit more. Brush teeth. (another thing that is important in my day. If too much time passes between my tooth brushings too much plaque (=bacteria) builds up and this becomes a body burden. To me. Because I am crazy sensitive. It’s something I discovered empirically and it is repeatedly confirmed. But it too takes planning because I was just about to make myself a cup of tea so I’ll do that first……an hour later I have the nagging feeling I’m forgetting something… thankfully because my eating doesn’t involve sugars or starches I do not have to brush every three hours like other people should.)

Well, then the writing came. I wrote that first alinea, it just came. It is nice. I’m happy with it. (even if it’s just a first draft)

Then the second wouldn’t come. Got to do more fiddling. Then it started again. And so on.

I am really surprised this is how it works! It is like playing, I am really having fun. But then the next moment it’s like you want to cry a bit, because it hurts a bit, but without desperation. Whimpering more. A really weird combination.

What it is not is too much pressure. Too much ambition. Too much thinking. Too much work. Yay.

I am really surprised. And glad.

PS

writing like this is JUST like knitting the way Mary Ann Phillips does. You knów what you are doing and still you are just playing. You take your skills and your knowledge and you forget about the rules (but not entirely)

patterns emerge, beautiful things emerge. Things you could not have imagined before you started making them but once you make them you recognize them. Their pattern, the rules they obey, the rules they break. It is a very joyeus way of working.

these knitting were just started, without any plan in mind. Just do some knits, a purl, a yarn over. By repeating them patterns emerge. They themselves inspire to knit following rows a certain way to create other patterns. Before you know it you have made a piece of lace kitting that no one ever before has made. You have even invented some stitches that did not exist previously.

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