Tired Of Not Being A Millionaire

Do you remember that scene in “Office Space” during which Peter asks his neighbor, Lawrence, what he would do if he had a million dollars?  The idea being that whatever you’d do if money weren’t the main motivator is what you’re ideally suited to do, or be.  (By the way, I love Lawrence’s response: “Two chicks at the same time, man.”  Classic.  Maybe that means he should be in porn?)  I’ve been thinking about this lately because things at my place of employment are somewhat unstable and, though I genuinely love the work I do – I am a science-nerd, after all – what I would do if I could magically pay my bills without having to punch a clock day in and day out, is write.  I would write story after story, blog post after blog post.  Novels, screenplays, short stories.  I would sit, fingers poised on the keyboard of my laptop, cup of coffee within reach, and see just what, exactly, I might have to say.

As I’m sure you’ve surmised, I already do this.  A bit.  I love to read and write the way athletes love to play, the way musicians love to jam.  It’s my hobby but also my passion, my love.  If I were a trust fund baby, this is how I would use my time.

It may seem like a frivolous way to spend one’s energy and I understand that logic, really.  It’s a small part of what led me to my career in science, the idea that writing isn’t relevant enough to be more than a hobby.  But the truth is, even though it isn’t vital in the way medicine is, for example, storytelling must be essential to the plight of man because it has existed in one form or another for nearly as long as man has existed.  The story as told in a film, in a book, in a song, a poem, was part of the oral tradition before the written language came to be and I suspect that when man came down out of the trees, part of his survival (maybe part of what drove him further along on the evolutionary trail) depended on the need to tell a story.  And his need to hear one.

It’s how we discover ourselves, the true nature of humankind.  It’s how we learn what we believe to be truth.  It’s how we make sense of life.

If I had a million dollars, I would tell a million stories.



14 thoughts on “Tired Of Not Being A Millionaire

  1. I am also a scientist and have loved my career for over 30 years. Only during the past few years have I begun to resent it’s necessity. You spend your life doing “something” to pay the bills and with a little luck you have chosen a career you love. But earning the money to pay for the things you really want to do eats up your life little by little. My job is seriously taking up too much of my time and I resent that. Unless you are born as you say, N., a trust fund baby, you are going to have to work to provide shelter, food, medical coverage, satellite TV and Netflix. I applaud you, Nikki, for making the time for what you love now, while you are young and passionate about writing. There’s no need to tell you to keep at it but I want to encourage you to be mindful of what is really important in life. Avoid the vines that can wrap around your ankles when you are not looking. I love my life and would not change a thing, but passion for something be it writing, making music, painting or anything else is what keeps you alive and nurtures your soul. I think most scientists are creative people and need to express it outside of work. I’ll keep going to work every day to earn what I need to do what I love. I will also continue put my $1 in the lottery pool at work, after all, how great would it be to do what I love in an old farmhouse in France?!

  2. I can’t tell you how often I dreamed of being a writer! I made a somewhat small attempt at becoming published by submitting a short story at various online magazines. After a couple months, between having a family and full time job, I gave up. I still write stories and novels, and recently started my angry rant blog, but there’s nothing like that hope of writing full time. I didn’t care much about the pay…if it was $1 or even free I still would have been extactic knowing that my story was professionally published for everyone to see. Oh well, for now I’ll sit back and write for myself and enjoy what others have to say. Great Post!

  3. I love writing too! And it’s especially hard to come home after work, make dinner, and then try to write something intelligent when all you want to do is veg out in front of the computer or television. Here’s to more energy and inspiration!

  4. I beg to differ than writing is somewhat “less important” than science or something. Both are pretty cool though. 🙂 I’m currently studying English with a minor in Professional Writing right now and I want to work as a technical writer at a company,..writing about scientific and engineering products. I wish I could say I JUST wanted to be a writer though! I plan on working in a library, not at my house at my laptop. although I wish I could.The above post sounds really bad, I know the profession will be a tad bit difficult though!!! I wish you could elaborate ManicMonday!

    • I only meant that there are few “rules” to writing fiction and even fewer still to blogging. Behavioral science has specific writing rules (APA guidelines) but the physical sciences are worse because writing guidelines are journal dependent, although many of them follow the ACS style guide. My employer has a more stringent set of writing guidelines than ACS. (For example, I can not refer to the individuals involved in the work, except as a third person. I can’t say: The technician did this or I think that, it has to be this was done, and the results are that. ) You may have found the cure for cancer, but you can’t write it the way you would talk to a friend (or on a blog). It’s more like: This work suggests that a cure for cancer is feasible within the next decade. I find there is very little creativity but much frustration involved. Others may have different experiences. If anyone has a secret for writing a good scientific paper without pulling out all your hair for hours at a time – please, please, please share it! 🙂

      • I feel your pain, MM! Scientific writing is very clinical and cold. Whereas other forms of writing, be they fiction, memoir, blogging, or even “how-to” guides, are much more personal. You as the writer can put much more of yourself into it. Scientific writing is sort of sterile.
        Thanks! ~Nikki

  5. Being a fellow scientist, I can understand your desire for a creative outlet. For me, it is primarily photography. Great photography can tell a story in just one image, but trying to find & create that one image is a quest in and of itself. I’ve done some writing in the past but it takes a greater love of the art than I possess.
    I don’t know how you feel about it, but for me, the most frustrating type of writing is scientific writing. It feels like pulling teeth to put together a comprehensible sentence – one that makes sense, says what you need it to, and avoids personal pronouns. Too bad we can’t use flowery language in journal articles – it would make everything so much easier! 🙂

  6. I love this post! I am quite jealous, I have always had a passion for writing but have never been able to sit still and concentrate long enough to let the creative juices flow. I have always had much to say, and often times share more than others want to hear. I hope to someday be able to have half the passion you do.

    • SS,
      It takes more patience than anything else, something that doesn’t come easily to me. Keep at it, though, because there’s no better high than the one that comes when you finally find the prettiest, most perfect words to say exactly what you mean!

  7. That is the absolute dream. To write enough, make enough money… to just write forever. To never need to worry about selling your work, only expressing through it. think about J.K. Rowling: she is now free to write whatever she pleases. Readers will read it, and she will make even more money, but she can do what she wants without worrying.
    Storytelling really is important, because it is the struggle of the human race, of the individual. We spend our entire lives telling stories to make sense out of life. So if stories make sense out of life, they work much the same way biology does. Yet both aspects merely explain two different facets of life.

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