“Why I Write” by Subhadra Jayaraman

I write for myself. The words that I emblazon on paper spark in me a sense of certainty that thoughts and speech do not. The written word is permanent. There is a characteristic expression in writing that instantly clarifies my nebulous thoughts. While writing, I feel endowed with the power of systematic deconstruction. My writing is distinctly different from my conversational language and my unformulated feelings. When I write, I become the architect who builds an intricate blueprint from vaguely expressed ideas of a structure. Writing is one of my strongest forms of expression, a phenomenon that helps me capture the eternally devious strands of thought fluttering out of reach, and rein them all into one coherent, solid assembly – something akin to the exhilarating but impossible capture of sunlight in a jar, or water in your cupped palms.

I write because I read. Words have the power to change my perceptions, hone my opinions, belabor my actions, and eventually transform my life. It happened to me when I was a wide-eyed child, and it happens to me when I am a self-aware adult. Reading enlightens me about the stories of the first humans, the power of technology, the influence of religion, the concepts of spirituality, and above all the immense dominion of human communication. Reading makes me believe, makes me comprehend, and makes me marvel at the command the written word has over the human mind. And I write because this awe makes an inspiration bubble within me, to express myself, to use this medium as a thread of communication with other souls who are in the same boat as me. I write because I want to sculpt in words the emotions and perceptions I harbor, so that a reader somewhere, feeling and perceiving the same as me would feel that spur within too. I write because it is telepathic. I write because the spark in me wants to connect with the spark in others – without any preamble, without any fanfare, just from one soul to another.

I write to share. As a scientist, I believe in the process of long-form descriptive renditions. The ability to communicate effectively is the crux of something as complicated and diverse as scientific research. In my 8-year long career as a lab scientist, I have understood that it is not just the science that is diverse, but also the people it reaches. And effective communication is an essential tool to reach the mavericks in the field and the laymen alike. Scientific writing for a journal or for a conference is highly structured, complex, and verbose. Scientific communication for the masses is concise, simple, and easy to understand. Scientific statements made to governing bodies and policy makers are organized, emphatic, and have an element of vitality. It is difficult to demur to this widely accepted form of communication when it comes to translating bench work to everyday use. The vastness of opportunities for writing in this field only excites me more. I have relayed science through writing to the general public, the patent lawyers, the business development team, the leaders in my field, my classmates, and my friends and family – and every single time emerged with new knowledge.

And finally, I write to let go. Writing is cathartic. My poignant thoughts spill out like Cheerios from a hastily opened cereal box and when they take shape in the form of these symbols on paper, I feel at peace within. When my tangled thoughts take the shape of written words, it makes a calmness course through me that ranting verbally sometimes fails to do. And when I read my writing from the past, I marvel at how far I have come and how much I have improved. Because browsing through past articles is not like browsing through your old photos when you were skinnier or had a lot more hair – you can never feel like you are worse off today. Writing is my spiritual, psychological, grammatical, scientific exercise, and I doubt it will deteriorate with practice.

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