When I first started my editing and writing career, I was once asked whether I thought I’d get bored, sitting in front of a computer all day — after all, I’d spent many years in a hands-on laboratory environment as a scientist — “Surely life at a desk is not for you?” I was asked.
Editing, far from being boring, is a career full of diversity. I spend my days working on various topics — I could be editing a document about farming in Brazil one day, and the intricacies of engineering a new electron microscope the next. The curiosity that made me a good scientist has spilled over into my communications work — I’m drawn into whatever text I’m working on and enjoy looking at a subject from a broad angle. I often delve deep into the subject in hand, doing plenty of background research along the way to ensure I meet my client’s needs. Last week I was writing about environmental contaminants and their effects on water supplies — a topic so close to the public’s heart right now. It’s fun to learn so much as I work, and makes me feel connected to the world.
No, my experience as an editor is far cry from my time in the lab when, day after day, year after year, I’d be looking at a single research topic, writing about said topic until it felt like my eyes were crossed and my brain was fried. I think what people don’t realize is that lab work itself can be very monotonous — there’s only so many patterns that you can create in a pipette tip box until you come back to the first! I don’t regret any of my time spent in the lab however — the skills that I developed as a researcher and published scientist have spilled over into my editing and writing career, enabling me to be very effective in my current endeavours.
Although on occasion I do miss wearing a lab coat, playing with pipettes, and Bunsen burners, I feel so lucky that I’ve found a career where I can use my scientific brain to help other people in way that constantly keeps me interested and applied to the task in hand.
So, “yes” is my answer. Life at a desk is for me — although there’s nothing stopping me from working on the sofa in my PJs, in bed with a cup of coffee, or even on the beach on an exotic island. Now that is something you can’t say about lab work.