Field of Science

On writing and blogging

I've written about many things on this blog. Bacteria, antibiotics, um, other bacteria. But one thing I haven't really covered is blogging about blogging. There is a good reason for this, lots of other people are doing it so much better and I wouldn't know where to start, apart from floundering around waving my arms about and talking about how much more I've enjoyed blogging now I'm in this whole 'network' thing.

But then Hannah went and wrote a post about it and that post gave me confidence. I might be just a recently-graduated student with limited experience of both science and science writing, but can still write. I can't write about facultys, tenure-track, post-doc-ness, or give much breadth of experience to my topics, but what I can bring, and what I hope I always will bring is a huge amount of occasionally overwhelming enthusiasm for the bacteria I love finding out about.

What's possibly a benefit to that is that I'm always starting from the point of view that I'm probably wrong. Any comments that ask pertinent questions about what I've written have me scuttling back to the literature. This blog has helped me learn, and helped me discover a new things and most importantly has kept my learning broad. I've just graduated, which means if I go on to do a PhD I will continually be narrowing down my field of vision directed towards whatever I happen to be studying. Even during my degree it was starting to happen, and yet by keeping this blog open I can learn about things like modelling virotherapy for cancer and how plants respond to iron stress despite the fact that it's not really a part of my course. It's all interesting, and I want to keep finding out about it.

As well as giving me confidence with her post Hannah also tagged me for the bloggers with substance meme:

1. Sum up your blogging motivation, philosophy and experience in exactly 10 words.

I can do that in two words: I write.

Ten words: I cannot find a way to stop myself writing. Refrigerator.

I write. I have always written. I have whole files full of masses of paper that I scribbled bad sci-fi stories on when I was ten. Any computer I've ever used will have a folder marked "non-fiction" that is usually more crammed full of things than any other folder. I have bits of fantasy story and fanfic scribbled in the margins of my lecture notes. Every time I go on holiday I usually bring some blank paper and a pen with me, rather than (or as well as) a book to read. My A-level chemistry notes have Star Wars essays covering them and I swear I used to have a school shirt with random phrases from a Harry Potter fanfiction scribbled on the cuff.

I can't ever imagine not writing.

Somewhere around second year university I decided that I should probably channel this force for good and, after finding Ed Yong's blog and realizing that it was possible to write about science online, I started writing about science. It seemed to work well, and it's been working better and better ever since. I have bloggy friends now, and a bloggy community. I tweet stuff. The writing has become something great, and I still very much enjoy doing it.

Yes that was slightly more than ten words. This is a blog-post, not a tweet.

2. Pass it on to 10 other bloggers with substance

I think everyone I'd want to pass it onto has already been tagged, but here's ten bloggers that I enjoy reading and most of whom I'm blog-friends with anyway:

Skeptic Wonder - The Protist Person

Lucas Brouwers - who blogs at Thoughtonomics about all sort of interesting stuff

C6-H12-O2 - a blogger I found recently who writes lots of nice mol-bio articles

Angry by Choice - who won me over by writing a post about a fungi that devours worms by making little traps for them

Schooner of Science - the pirate science blogger!

MolBio Research Highlight - who got the MolBio Carnival running and does awesome tweets.

Disease of the Week - A bacteriologist, a virologist, and a lot of diseases (and currently a poll...)

Oscillator - for synthetic biology goodies

Dr Isis - for all the wonderful advice on science, motherhood and other things that I might end up doing in the future

Games with Words - who makes very good points that I sometimes disagree with

(I would have added Culturing Science to the list as well, but she tagged me so I'm not sure it counts...)

That's probably the most linked post I've ever made, and also probably more information than anyone really wanted to know about me. I am a science student who likes writing, and this blog is where it all comes together as one.


Lucas Brouwers said...

I started following your blog in 2009.. but still wish I started sooner! Reading your posts and seeing you grow as a writer has been really inspiring.. Plus, you're a great community builder! You deserve lots of cookies and beers for all the comments you left behind!

And thanks for the tag and link! After having been tagged twice, I guess I have to bite the blogging-about-blogging bullet too ;).

Liz said...

I like this post a lot :) I think your reasons for blogging are similar to mine - I have always written, since I was nine or ten. University kinda drained me of inspiration, though, and it sucked. I'm really hoping that blogging, although it isn't fiction, will help me feel a little bit more creative.

Also, I want to try to stave off the inevitable narrowing of learning. I'm pretty sure that there are a load of fascinating areas of research out there that I know nothing about yet, and it's far to early for me to ignore those possibilities.

Also, I should say thank you, for making me realise that undergrads can do this stuff too, and indirectly convincing me to start a blog of my own. It's not always about being an expert, it's about being enthusiastic, and, well... I'm trying!

Gah long comment. Sorry.

Lab Rat said...

@lucas: Yes you should! One of the side effects of this is that I've learnt a bit more about how my bloggy-friends see blogging, and it's always fascinating to see how other people view things :) LOL cookies and beers :D

@Liz: I've just taken a look at your blog! It looks really amazing, good luck with it. Undergrads can do anything ... maybe not always as well, but usually having a lot more fun! (btw...when you get five posts up head over to and put in an application. That way your writing about papers will get pulled up into an aggregated system and a lot more people can find it)

Long comments are fine. I like comments :D

Captain Skellett said...

Ha, you sound like me with random bits of paper and writing in the margin. I used to write Harry Potter fanfiction back in the day...

Thanks for linking to the Schooner :) Love reading your blog.