I don’t know why I didn’t focus on it more during my masters – it was certainly just as important then as it is now – but I need to figure out this whole writing and reading thing. There are a lot things to learn in graduate school. There’s the science itself: the math, the biology, the physics, the coding (etc, etc…). But what I am starting to realize is that I need to figure out how to write, and how to read. And to do both of these things well. Because everything else really hinges on those abilities.
I just got a first draft of an abstract back from my advisor. There was not a single sentence that was left untouched, with corrections to everything from spelling to syntax to content. I need to re-word almost all of the first half, and entirely re-write the second half. And the worst part is that I thought it was pretty decent when I emailed it to him last week. *sigh*
So after a few minutes of indulgent self-pity, I figured I should probably suck it up and remember that this is how I’m going to learn things. It made me think of Dr. Shubov, my math teacher at UNH. One day I asked her a question, prefaced with how it was a stupid question. She responded (to the class in general, I think) that we only have stupid questions because we don’t know anything yet, so go ahead and ask. (as opposed to every other teacher I’ve had, who always told us that there was no such thing as a stupid question). I liked this a lot, and she is still one of my favorite teachers.
So I guess the point is, I don’t know anything now, so I might as well go ahead and ask the stupid questions, accept that my drafts will be full of errors, and that I’ll make many, many mistakes – and try to use it as a way to improve.
Well, that’s my little soapbox motivational speech for the day.