Friday, October 6, 2017

Damaged words

"But with all my education
I can seem to commend it
And the words are all escaping me
And coming back all damaged
And I would put them back in poetry if I only knew how
I can't seem to understand it"
- "All this and heaven too" by Florence and the Machine
Friends, writing is hard. Ask any scientist why they got into research, and I guarantee none of them will tell you it's because they love to write. We get into this business for the field work, for the adventure, for the curiosity, but a large portion of our time is spent on the back end of that process, merely writing up our results. Scientific literature can be bland and is often difficult to assemble, but we do it anyway. It's the best way to communicate our results to one another. Trust me, though, nobody gets into this job for the writing. It's just an inevitable necessity.

I've spent a lot of time writing this week. I've been working on proposals and applications for future work but also finishing up two manuscripts on oysters. I've told you about the oyster projects before. I started analyzing the data in January, spent March and April whittling down the results to a digestible story, started the whole thing over in July, and have been revising ever since. It's been a long process, and every time I think I'm finished, my co-authors come back with more suggestions for improvement.

Don't get me wrong - my co-authors are wonderful, intelligent people who have important things to say, and we're getting really close! There's just a point in every scientific study when I'm sick of the data and ready to be done. Every time words escape me, they come back all damaged. I would much put them back in poetry if I only knew how, but I'll settle for a well-constructed, sleek scientific paper. It's a long, process, friends, but I'm close. So close.

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