Research Writer Interview With Helen
Passion for Academic Research
Helen has agreed to be interviewed, in particular about the essay writing process, how she began writing and how she approaches her academic writing. During the interview, she spoke of the following...
Since the day I learned to read, I have been fascinated by books and by learning. Books, words, are my life-blood - not a day, nor even an hour, passes without my reading or writing something! This could be anything, from how to grow orchids to Nordic mythology, to Colombian literature or Darwin's travels on The Beagle. When I was little, my Grandad told me that we only grow old when we stop learning new things, and this has stuck with me forever - I have a compulsion to read, to assimilate, and to produce works based on my research. For me, the writing process presents itself almost as an intense thirst, primarily for knowledge, and as a consequence of this, for translating and spreading that knowledge through my writing.
In terms of how I became 'a writer,' I completed my education to D.Phil. level, and worked high-up in an organisation for a while, with a career that was inside academia, but not directly involving writing. Before I became entrapped by the rat race I decided - for the sake of my soul - that I had to save myself, and I left my well-paid job to launch myself as a freelance writer. This decision was not quite as drastic as it sounds, as I had, for several months previous to leaving my job, been working as a part-time copy editor, and so I knew I had enough earnings from that work to be able to eat at least bread and butter for the foreseeable future. The task for the next few months was, then, relatively easy! I had to discipline myself enough to forge a career from my true passion: words, that is, writing words on paper, and then marketing and selling them to people who were willing to pay me for what I had written.
Faced with what could have been a daunting prospect, had I let myself be intimidated by the situation, I threw myself in to making my dream a reality, and four years later, I now earn my living as a freelance writer. I am currently working on a book, which has been accepted by a publisher, and which takes up around half of my time. As my 'bread and butter' work, I write articles and essays, alongside completing my copy editing work: writing articles and essays allows me to flex my writing muscle, keeping it toned and flexible, and to indulge my absolute passion for learning; copy editing allows me to read a diverse array of work, and keeps me on my toes grammatically, to ensure I produce error-free copy when writing term papers and research papers.
Books, words, writing, are my life, simple as that. With this in mind, I approach my writing as I approach my life: I enjoy every minute of it, as you'll never know which minute will be your last; I tackle problems head-on as they arise, as then they won't defeat me, and I make the most out of every opportunity that presents itself to me, whether this be an essay on Yeats (which could lead to an interesting secondary mini research project, on Irish politics, for example) or an article on travelling in Bolivia (which, as I am writing this, will bring back so many fond memories of my trips there, that I'll smile all night long). You will never, as my Granddad said, grow old if you learn something new every day - the writing process does, in its own way, teach us things about ourselves, and about life, that we can learn from and expand our horizons through. Looked at this way, writing is a joy. It's a true privilege to earn my living from my passion, and as such, I approach my writing thankfully and with fresh eyes every time I sit down to produce a piece of writing.
Shortly after the interview was over, the interviewer left Helen in the cafe, alone with a book, with a smile on her face, lost in another world.
Random writer: /writer-susan