Sherpa Dreams (599 Words)
Scientific communication has always been taller than Everest, rockier than Matterhorn, holier than Kailash, snowy as Kilimanjaro and as alien as Olympus Mons, which makes this rocky fortress truly a herculean task to surmount. Yet there are those who are seasoned scientific writers who have scaled the heights of success of this sought-after profession. This is my story of harboring Sherpa ambitions to scale the lofty heights of scientific communication.
From experience I know that sending magazine articles down the throat of pigeon holes and postboxes of the electronic age will not get you column space or a voice on paper. My yahoo e-mail address is cluttered with my many attempts to catapult scientific magazine articles down the black holes of general e—mail addresses which are the only portals available to many of the well-known scientific magazines. Rarely do we get access to authors and columnists and in the climate of seclusion and building hermitages, and finding your place in any of the acclaimed scientific magazines is as rare as a Venus transit. To be frank, I have given up writing to “Olympian” magazines, as I have realized that the chances of fruition of anonymity and amateurship, is very remote and requires lady luck to make that jump across.
Empiricism is a challenge of the intricacies of the firing neurons and scientific writing is the outflow of creative juices that are churned in the blenders of the human mind, and both are offspring of the same matriarch, science. Science is the first frontier and the last destination of the human mind and in between lies a beautiful narration of muscled or serendipitous outcomes that will litter the streets of discovery. Scientific communication is the narration of the story for all to understand, from the Nobel laureate to the street pauper and in this story lies the interface of technical brawn and creative beauty and together they form a beautiful strain of science from the bench to the bedside.
Therefore I lie here wondering whether I will ever make it as a scientific communicator, to be able to simplify the labyrinths of science on A4paper and to chronicle vast arrays of metadata sets into meaningful compasses pointing the way forward to scientific utopias. Perhaps lightning will strike and perhaps it will be bare skies but what is certain is that with every rejection there is a sense of defeat and dilution of confidence, which I hope will be as transient as a flame from a match. I don’t know what the future holds for my ambition as a scientific communicator but I will always be fearful of rejection; still at the same time, I will also by shy to accept free passes to success. I would rather earn my ticket than be a beggar extending my palm for a few sympathetic coins. I owe myself that – to want to be measured by the ink spilled on parchment and not on my pleading self.
Scientific communication will always be a long winding road to the top and time will tell of my story of pitfalls and perhaps the occasional podium. The short road away from home looks increasingly tempting and in spite of my many broken dreams I think I will stand my ground a bit longer. I might not scale the mountain tops but at least I will enlighten a few minds of the intricacies of science along this uphill journey, first as the man with the pen in hand and equally importantly, as the Sherpa wannabe who persevered with the pen in his pocket.
Dr Dilantha Gunawardana graduated from the University of Melbourne, as a molecular biologist, and moonlights as a poet. He currently serves as a Senior Lecturer in the Department of Botany, University of Sri Jayewardenepura. Dilantha lives in a chimeric universe of science and poetry. Dilantha’s poems have been accepted for publication /published in HeartWood Literary Magazine, Canary Literary Magazine, Boston Accent, Forage, Kitaab, Eastlit, American Journal of Poetry, Zingara Poetry Review, The Wagon and Ravens Perch, among others. Dilantha too has two anthologies of poetry, 'Kite Dreams' (2016) and 'Driftwood' (2017), both brought to the readership by Sarasavi Publishers, and is working on his third poetry collection (The Many Constellations of Home). Dilantha’s pet areas of teaching and research, include, Nitrogen Fixation, RNA biology, Phytoremediation, Agricultural Biology, and Bioethics & Biosafety. Dilantha blogs at – https://meandererworld.wordpress.com/ -, where he has nearly 2000 poems.
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