The Writer and The Engineer

Once upon a time, I was a storyteller, a writer who created worlds in his mind and formed them on the page. I have always enjoyed writing. I wouldn’t go so far as to call it a passion, but it’s something I’ve been fond of for a long time. In grade school, English was my favorite subject because we were tasked with a creative writing exercise each week, and I loved penning stories full of fancy and imagination. As I grew older, those stories faded away, and I still remember that sense of dejection on my first day of English in 7th grade, when I learned that we would be learning technical writing instead.

Thus the wonder of the narrative was cast aside for the somewhat dull functionality of reports, manuals and proposals. Studying engineering in college, I found my writing mired in guidelines and constraints, with no room for colorful language or fanciful imagery. There were a few attempts to re-capture the old magic, to write a story or two, but they were written with the mind of an engineer, full of clunky, if technically accurate prose.

As I attempt to get back into writing now, it is a conflict that rages on. My job mostly involves providing factual descriptions that are dressed up a bit to sound more appealing, which suits the engineer in me just fine. But the creative writer, trying to emerge after being dormant for so many years, finds himself continually frustrated in his attempts.

But then an island came into view amidst the fog. It gave my imaginative friend an outlet for his thoughts, a place to unleash those surreal vistas of his mind. He was ecstatic, until he realized he was not alone. The engineer was ever present, trying to organize that jumbled chaos of thoughts into ordered forms, watering down flowery prose to just the facts. In order for both to survive, a compromise had to be reached.

So I found myself in two minds, stepping between two worlds without fully being in either. The engineer laid down a foundation of fact and order, and then the writer stepped in to build a castle brimming with imagination on top of it. Both fulfilled their purpose and worked in harmony, instead of being at odds. And they lived happily ever after.

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