Monday, 11 January 2010

Profession dysphoria? Pur-lease…

Wait, work with me on this one. 

Gender dysphoria--your body is the wrong gender.  Species dysphoria--your body is the wrong species.  Profession dysphoria--your body is wired for the wrong profession.

See, I’m a writer.  That’s a fundamental, basic fact of my existence I can do no more to change than I could to change my sexuality or skin colour.  But like a man who’ll try on his girlfriend’s underwear while she’s at work and insists on being a ‘she’ when he’s online, I’m not sure that’s who I’m meant to be.

I think… I think I’m actually an engineer.

It feels kind of good to say it at last, but also very scary.

I’m no good with engineering-type things, though.  All those equations about pressure and torque and voltage make my head go squishy.  It’s like being a surgeon but being perplexed by the offal.  I want to be good at them, I want to understand and be fascinated by all those numbers and Greek letters, but they just don’t fit into my brain.  There’s no holes for them to go into. 

I love listening to engineers talk, though.  I love the discussions they have about, say, whether a USB cable plugged into a laptop electrocute a toddler.  I love those bits in Freefall where Ambrose explains why the ship isn’t working and in xkcd where the punchline is a string of computer code.  I love the way engineers take a problem, break it down into parts and argue about how to solve each part while entirely losing track of the bigger picture. 

I want to be able to take a bunch of shafts, gears and equations and make a windmill out of them.  I want to be able to boost the power on my TV remote control so it becomes a deadly weapon.  I want to turn my work chair into an orbital observation platform using only items I can find around the office.

Well, I want to be able to spend my time scribbling on Post-It notes, working out just how impossible those things are and how I can make them possible.  I have a yearning.

But I’m a writer.  My equations are grammar and my gears are adverbs.  I can pull apart a paragraph and make it five times more efficient, but re-wiring a plug is a foreign land full of language sounds I can’t make.  The only poetry in motion I’m likely to produce is when a screwed up scrap of paper that used to be a first draft sails through the air and into the bin.

Sigh.  I’m a fox engineer in a human writer’s body.  Maybe I should form my own support group…



6 comments:

ngaio said...

And there you have exactly how I feel towards writing.

Jo Thomas said...

Then there's me. Fully capable of the engineering if I could bother to apply myself. I refuse to be a number crunching stati- I just prefer the wildlife, ok?

Oh, and mousified ;)

Jo Thomas said...

Actually, I ought to add that I'd be seriously mediocre at being an engineer or scientist, too. Just like everything else...

Waterbug Guy said...

Sounds like you should be a product manager?

Jo Thomas said...

Me? Oh, no... I just want to go walking. Have bag-of-tricks, will walk for money ;)

Foxie said...

Yeah... maybe it's just over-exposure to Dilbert, but anything involving the title 'manager' sounds like you'd need to surrender your soul first...