As I begin adding “writer” to my career, I’ve been attending a Creative Writing course since I’ve never taken any formal training. I want you to invite you into the process which is why I’m going to start sharing writing assignments from my class.
It’s scary. The thought of you reading this, judging this. But I’m willing to put myself out there in order to help inspire you to go after your own career dreams, no matter how big or seemingly small they are.
Class 1: as a class we created two characters, and the assignment was to pick one and write a scene in which they have a secret. Here’s what I wrote:
I got into chemistry and pharmacology so that I could make a difference. I know it was idealistic of me, for choosing a career in the hopes of literally finding a cure for cancer.
I did it too. After years of schooling, research and working in some of the best labs in the world. I found it, the cure for cancer.
I just didn’t expect it to feel as horrible as it does.
Okay, it wasn’t just me. It was my team, together we made the discovery. We popped the champagne, tears running down our faces, shaking our heads in disbelief at each other. I went home that night hopeful for a new future, one where my daughter won’t have to lose me to the disease that took my mother.
Until I went in the next day and the world crumbled around me. I showed up to an empty lab and Human Resources pulling me and the team into a board room. They were destroying the findings. They were forcing us to sign NDAs. They wanted to keep it a secret.
I wanted to rush out right then. Quit and be done with the greedy bastards, but I can’t. I have Ella to think about, she just started at her new school and finally adjusting to it just being the two of us. I have responsibilities that I can’t ignore.
I can’t ignore it though. I don’t care about the credit, accolades or recognition. I don’t care about the Nobel I’m sure we would’ve one. I care about all those women dying unnecessarily from Ovarian Cancer that don’t have to.
That’s why I’m here. Talking to you. Literally putting my life and story in your hands.
I sit back and sigh, finished with my monologue. I look at Adam, an investigative journalist from the Times, a shocked look on his face.
“Wow….that’s some story” he says quietly, rubbing his hand over his face. “I need a second to process it”
“I know, I know. I get it. I didn’t know who else to call though.”
“It’s just…wow…okay…I thought when you reached out it was just to catch up, it’s been 20 years after all” he replies “I totally wasn’t expecting this”
I rushed into it. I know I did.
The thing is, I spent a month of not sleeping, of the guilt eating me alive. I had to do something, but had no clue what.
Then I remembered, Adam, my college boyfriend, had gotten the job recently with the Times and thought if he couldn’t help me, he at least would know who could or what my options were. So when I walked into the café tonight and saw him there. Him in his fair isle wool sweater and brown cords that matched his curly hair and his warm, friendly smile. I couldn’t help flinging myself into the chair and finally getting all of this off my chest.
“Okay, here’s what we’re going to do.” Said Adam in a more take charge manner, “You are now a source, okay?”
“A source? What does that mean?”
“It means that everything you say to me stays anonymous, I only report on what you want me to, plus I can’t reveal your identity in court, okay?” he continues, “that’s assuming you want to report this at all?”
“I do. I think I do. No I do. This must get out there. Pharma Inc has to get these drugs into the hands that need them instead of secreting them away to protect their bottom line. It’s just that nobody can know this has come from me, I mean nobody.” I insist.
“Nobody. Have you told anyone else?”
“Not a soul”
“Not even Chris?” he asks gently.
“No, Chris and I haven’t spoken since the divorce was finalized. He hasn’t even seen Ella
Adam’s eyes widen, “oh man, I’m sorry to hear that Jas, poor girl. How old is she now?”
“She just turned 10 and she’s incredible. You should meet her one day,” I say surprising myself. “I guess, is that against the rules of being a source?”
Adam laughs his hearty laugh and my insides warm up and relax. I forgot how easy it is to be around him, how I would show up at his house stressed about my…well everything about school…and it would all just melt away with one of his bear hugs, oh how I wish I could have one now. Really every day for the past 5 years one would’ve been needed.
“It’s not normal, no, but it is normal for old friends to be in each other’s lives right?” he asks.
“What about Rachel? What would you tell her, would she know I’m a source?” I question.
“Oh that won’t be a problem” Adam shrugs, “we broke up a few months ago”
Oh that explains why she wasn’t in any of his birthday pictures on Facebook.
“What? I’m sorry Adam, what happened?” I ask quickly backtracking, “I mean, you don’t have to answer that, I shoudn’t of asked.”
“Oh that’s okay. The trying for a baby never worked out for us, all the fertility treatments and miscarriages. I guess we weren’t strong enough as a couple to get through it.”
“All that to say, it’s okay if I see you personally AND professionally there’s no one really to care…” he trails off and rushes on “so, yeah being a source.”
“so being a source” I parrot nervously.
“I’m going to need a day or two to get some things together, but you should create a fake email address and email me from there. Then I’ll send over some meeting times and locations and the items I may need you to begin collecting to corroborate your story, does that sound okay?”
I sigh, the anxiety causing the butterflies in my stomach to speed up. “It sounds…good” I say as I stand up.
He follows me. Grabs my arm and pulls me into one of his bear hugs. Quieting those nerves. Leaving me feeling safer and nervously optimistic about the future.
Sara Curto helps people find a career they love by teaching them a new way to job search.
The Secrets to finding a job you love
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