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post #1 of 18 (permalink) Old 04-17-2009, 12:57 PM Thread Starter
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On following your dreams - advice appreciated.

I'm a postdoctoral research fellow working in the scientific field of Bioinformatics. I don't hate what I do. If I did, I wouldnt be doing it. Indeed there are a lot of elements I enjoy. However, I know that, in reality, I'm not a very good scientist. I'm not stupid or anything and I've obviously done 'OK' so far (otherwise I wouldnt be working for one of the most renowned scientists in the world in my field at a very good UK university) but I know its not where my real talent lies.

One of my work colleagues, having been though the whole undergraduate, PhD and postdoctoral researcher route has finally decided that academia is not for him and he is going to medicine school this coming autumn. We have just had a chat over coffee about why he decided to do that and he quizzed me over what I actually want to do.

As I explained to my colleague, I kinda just 'fell into' science. As a child I shone in two subjects ... English and Science. I was a B student for just about everything else other than foreign languages which I hated and did terribly at (my school report usually said something like 'Alison would be very good at French/Spanish etc if only she showed an interest/worked at it etc'). For reasons which I'm not going to go into now I left school at 14, sat on my bum for two years and then (when I was old enough) went on various government training schemes in retail and so on. I was then given some money at age 18 which I used to get back to college, do my school exams (GCSEs) and got on a two year pre-university level course for computing at my local techical college (the dot com boom was in full flow at the time so I thought it was a sensible career path to take). I decided I hated the course after a week, wanted to change to another and the only one with any places left was in science. And that was that. Went on to do undergraduate studies in science etc etc.

I believe my real talents lie very much elsewhere. In fact I know my natural talent is for music. This was picked up on in primary school and my parents were urged to buy me a musical instrument. It didnt happen because my father considered it to be a waste of money. I know its too late for me to realise any dreams of ever being able to play music professionally and, as a result, I've never really learned to play an instrument at all. I have a classical guitar at home that is gathering dust. I have no interest in playing it because I'll never be as good as I should have been. Just one of those things I guess. It happens

I do have an passionate interest in doing something else very creative that I'm convinced I'd be good at but its in a field thats almost impossible to break into and every time I've mentioned it to people I'm told to be 'practical' and 'keep it as a hobby' while concentrating on my academic career. This had meant I havent really persued this either. I dont want it as a 'hobby', I want it as a career and if I dont do it as a career then I dont want to do it at all.

I'm sure that sounds a bit mad .. but I always figure that if you are going to do something, you may as well do it right.

The industry I'm thinking of entering of is extremely tough. I dont need any qualifications, just the talent. Being 'practical' I could try to progress in academia (which isnt exactly easy in itself, but at least i'm likely to have some success). But what I really want to do is this 'pie in the sky' stuff, which obviously other people have done but most people tell me its an impossible dream.

What do you guys think?

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post #2 of 18 (permalink) Old 04-17-2009, 01:26 PM
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Re: On following your dreams - advice appreciated.

Hmmm.....if you don't need any qualifications and you don't do it as a hobby...how are people going to know you have the talent? And I don't know of any talent that wouldn't benefit from training and education. So I guess I'm confused.

Everyone will probably tell you 'yes pursue your dream', but only you know whether the risks and sacrifices you may need to make are worth it to you. And whether you have the drive to get there and the fortitude to deal with rejection and keep pursuing your goal.


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post #3 of 18 (permalink) Old 04-17-2009, 01:30 PM Thread Starter
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Re: On following your dreams - advice appreciated.

Well, I went on a week long course just before Christmas and did well and its not as if I havent done anything at all .. I've just not persued it in any serious way. I've been tinkering

You can do courses but its not obligatory. You can just 'create' and show it to people at festivals and so on. I've done a fair bit of research on the subject.

I know that most people will say 'follow your dreams' ... but in this case, its the film industry. I want to be a writer/director (told you it was pie in the sky stuff!)

My flatmate, who does have a postgraduate qualification, has tried to break into the industry for years but has found himself stuck doing some corporate advertising thing.

I'm thinking of just writing a script (I have an idea obviously) and in the meantime go out and practice camera work. I have got a digital proconsumer camera (its old but the same model has been used in Hollywood films apparently).

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post #4 of 18 (permalink) Old 04-17-2009, 01:36 PM
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Re: On following your dreams - advice appreciated.

I think it depends on what it is you are wanting to do, exactly how difficult it would be to break into that particular field and if you actually *do* have what it takes. Especially if starting at a later age would make any influence on your ability to be competetive.

I sort of see a problem with not wanting to do anything unless you can be the best at it. Everyone has to start from somewhere and then make progress to get to where they want to be. You'll never be as good as you should have been if you never even begin.

I do not want to 'rain on your parade' because I can tell this excites you, but I feel everyone should pursue their dreams and get their head in the clouds for the thrill and exhilaration of achievement while keeping their feet firmly on the ground. Be realistic about your goals and abilities. Not necessarily playing it safe by not risking anything, but more of taking calculated risks and having a back-up plan if things don't pan out.

Is this something you can dabble in until you know whether or not you can make a success of it?
I may not be the best person to advise, I tend to play it safe and do things that please myself, for myself. Improving in areas that matter only to me, but it is still improvement and it helps to boost my self-confidence.



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post #5 of 18 (permalink) Old 04-17-2009, 01:41 PM Thread Starter
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Re: On following your dreams - advice appreciated.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Heidi n Q
Is this something you can dabble in until you know whether or not you can make a success of it?
Yes, most definately, and thats probably my best step forward. Indeed thats the 'plan' .. writing the script in my spare time while still doing my scientific research.

I guess one of my fears is that I might not be as good as I hope I might be which would be rather devastating ... and to be truthful this is probably my biggest stumbling block. I guess I ought to just get on with it and see how it pans out.

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post #6 of 18 (permalink) Old 04-17-2009, 01:51 PM
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Re: On following your dreams - advice appreciated.

It seems like if you take the competitive edge out of this (i.e., needing to be the best at it), that you could just enjoy the process, learn about yourself along the way, and know that it will end up being a positive experience no matter what reaction it gets from other people. That may be easier said than done, but it does sound like you're putting a lot of pressure on yourself to be #1 at whatever you try. The rest of us are perfectly okay with being mediocre.


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post #7 of 18 (permalink) Old 04-17-2009, 02:36 PM Thread Starter
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Re: On following your dreams - advice appreciated.

I'm pretty sure that theres no-one on this forum thats 'mediocre' . I have to admit to being a perfectionist though! And I do always want to be the 'best'. Rather obviously I cant be the best at everything, but I certainly have a go.

I think just writing it down has helped the thinking process. I think I'll just concentrate on the script initially and tinker a bit with the camera. I have considered just script-writing in the past, but then realised that I was 'seeing' what I wanted the end product to be as I was thinking about the story so writing something and then handing it over to someone else to for them to make it 'their film' doesnt sit right with me (if that makes sense).

Thanks for all the comments so far

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post #8 of 18 (permalink) Old 04-17-2009, 02:44 PM
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Re: On following your dreams - advice appreciated.

If anyone has said to you it's too late to learn an instrument, they are either lying or haven't a clue what they're on about. It's NEVER too late. A friend of mine is a flute teacher and his oldest pupil is 67, and he started 2 months ago.

Ok so to be a professional, yes you need to start early, but as you've never tried, you might just be the next Nigel Kennedy (without the stupid clothes). Even if you're the next Hugh Anthony, you'll still get a kick out of it

One more thing, Solent University (not Southampton Uni), run a very very good scriptwriting course. In fact they've produced people who now work in Hollywood. I can send more info if you want to just read.
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post #9 of 18 (permalink) Old 04-17-2009, 04:28 PM
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Re: On following your dreams - advice appreciated.

I have a piano student who is also in her late sixties. Adults who are self motivated progress much faster than children because they have manual dexterity. No one is too old to learn an instrument. A good sight reader will move along a bit faster, and even the very best of the best will not necessarily become a performing artist, but believe me, the joy of producing music that not only entertains, but thrills the listener, is fulfilling to the musician. You are never alone if there is a musical instrument in the room.

Get the instrument, and take lessons. An exceptional voice is something you are born with, but everyone can learn to use his voice properly, and sing much better. Of course, talent helps with every instrument, but anyone can learn, and become advanced. Go for it! You will never know if you don't try...even if there are stumbling blocks along the way. Just keep practicing!

(not that I'm prejudiced! )




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post #10 of 18 (permalink) Old 04-17-2009, 04:53 PM
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Re: On following your dreams - advice appreciated.

I'm ALL FOR the following of dreams!

But that being said, every adult who's planning to chase dreams needs to be ready to go back to basics and do the grunt work. You won't get right into writing/directing. First, you'll paint some sets. You'll learn lighting and design. You'll make zero money doing very hard work. You won't be discovered overnight, and it's not something you will break into because you're fiddling around on the weekends.

Theatre and film are hard, hard, HARD work. You need to know your history, your great actors, your writers, your directors. You need to understand the nuances of genre, you need to have a memory a mile long and an eye for quality. And that's all on top of the sheer elbow grease.

If you want to pursue it, go for it! Just be ready for a lot of work for little pay, and be ready to eat instant noodle dinners and sandwiches for a very, very long time. Them's the breaks as an artist.
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