Killing stories

This past week, I had two blog entry ideas that were supposed to become two blog entries. But somehow, I convinced myself that they were dumb ideas and I shouldn’t write them. And now I’m writing an even dumber entry about this story-killing process.

The first blog entry idea came when I made muffins last week and had to clean out my muffin pan. After scrubbing for 10 minutes and cursing myself for being too miserly to pay a few cents more per muffin for baking cups, I started wondering about the environmental damage of using and throwing away baking cups versus that of having to use extra, extra soap and hot water to clean out the pan.

I thought that would be a very fine blog entry with some solid web research and good pictures, but then I started thinking more carefully. A little voice in my head tells me – What if it turns out to be a super dumb entry that’s like a rant about completely irrelevant stuff which will not make any difference? Your readers are going to think that you’re stupid and irrelevant.

And so, I moved on to search for some ‘real’ science research to blog about. I found a very interesting article about engineering bacteria to increase their abilities to convert carbon dioxide into valuable industrial chemicals. Five days later, I still have not picked up the phone or sent the authors an email to ask them if I could learn more about their work in order to blog about it. Each time I’m about to do so, the voice stops me – What if they’re too busy? You can’t even tell them that this is for a class assignment; there’s practically no good reason for them to spend time talking to you. 

At some point, I looked over my existing entries on this blog. Almost every single one had already been corrected and fixed by various professors, because they’re mostly class assignments, so I could feel like they’re good enough to be seen. During the course of writing this post, which up until now has taken about 10 minutes, I have lost count of the number of times I stopped writing to let that little voice in my head tell me that this is stupid and you should stop. You’re going to embarrass yourself.

I would like to strangle that voice.

Well, obviously I can’t, but I guess the least I could do is to stop listening to it. Stop believing what it says. And then learn to live with it, because you never know, one day, it might turn out to be a great help. But for now, I have to stop letting that voice coax me into not doing anything, and then convincing me that it’s OK not to do anything because I’m going to fail anyway.

So I guess, even though it’s the middle of January, this year, I would like to be brave enough not to let the fear of failure stop me from trying. I would like to learn to be OK with imperfect blog entries. I would like to be brave enough to fight the good fight.

And now, I’m going to email the authors about their paper. I’ll think about what to tell them if they ask me what is this for later.



This entry is dedicated to a third-year medical student who has let his fear of being judged negatively by strange people mess with his head.