14 November 2006

Check your daily Citizen

It turns out that my opinion piece re: Remembrance Day touched a few hearts and turned a few heads. After much prompting from family & friends, I decided to submit the article to the Ottawa Citizen. It wasn’t long before I received a phone call from the editor, asking for my permission to run the piece in an upcoming paper. There are still no guarantees that this will make it to print, but it looks like a good possibility.

I can’t describe how excited I feel at the prospect of seeing my article in the paper. It feels amazing to know that my opinion was compelling enough to grab someone’s attention. This is the first time that I have ever felt empowered to write such an article, let alone send it in to the paper. I feel as though this has sparked something inside of me - a small flame that has always burned beneath the surface and has been hidden for far too long.

For the first time in ages, I feel passionate about writing. I’m not referring to my typical “fun” blog entries or my techno-laden articles at work, I’m talking about truly writing from the soul.

Back in high school, I was often reputed for my “strong” opinions. I was debate captain for several years, as well as a member of the impromptu speaking team. Yup…I was a politics geek. The students voted me, “Most likely to become Prime Minister” in the yearbook. I always seemed to be passionate about some burning issue. Everyone assumed that I would never change…myself included.

I tried to pursue my passion in University; I entered the honours program for communication and political science. While I enjoyed my courses for the most part, they did not often provide me with the opportunity to express myself freely. Papers were always written within the constraints of guidelines, predetermined topics and university writing manuals. While I always excelled in my assignments and research papers, I often felt that they were uninspiring – just the typical philosophical drivel that professors devour with fervor.

I always thought that my career would finally provide me the opportunity to tap into some of that misplaced gusto. I was very fortunate to find a government job in the field of communications directly after graduation. I was excited at the prospect of writing again, outside the realm of university papers. However, I soon discovered the many creative limitations that exist within the government. While I find the R &D sector fascinating, my knowledge of the subject matter is rather limited. I want to be passionate about science and I want to tell people why our research is valid, however I often lack the tools, resources and creative license to do so. This problem is also compounded by the fact that many scientists are not communicators, thus they do not comprehend the importance of talking about their research or justifying its value. The challenges and limitations can get quite frustrating.

Writing the remembrance article has reminded me that I don’t have to be stuck in this stagnant position. I simply have to find the time to express myself through other means….writing articles for the paper is just one simple solution..freelance work is also a possibility.

I’ll keep my fingers crossed re: the Ottawa Citizen. There is no guarantee that they will run the article. Just keep checking those papers for the next 7-10 days! Not everyone will agree with my opinion, but that’s a risk that I have always been willing to take. At any rate, this will be one more notch of experience to add to my belt and one more small accomplishment to add to my portfolio.