Inspiration and satisfaction

As a boy, I dreamed of building a sled. Now I build research papers.

When I was little, I wanted to build a sled. I envisioned an enclosed sled that glided along on three runners; I spent many evenings drawing a detailed steering mechanism, sketching a plan for the passenger capsule and carefully planning the sled's dimensions. I imagined how it would fly over the snow. I was sure I would build it, and I trembled with impatience to start. But it never came to be.

I had several boyhood projects that burned intensely in my imagination, but then faded in the light of reality. At the beginning of my graduate career, I was terrified that my research would have the same fate as those projects: burning inspirations that ultimately amounted to nothing as I moved on to my next idea.

Three years ago, when I learned that my first manuscript had been accepted, the excitement was electric. I had finally taken a moment of inspiration and followed it to completion. With each subsequent manuscript acceptance, I become more confident that I can in fact finish the projects that inspire me.

Today, looking at a recently published paper I co-authored, I think of the excited moments of inspiration that preceded it, as well as my year and a half of work, some of it tedious. My satisfaction on seeing the paper in print is worth much more than those transient inspirations.

As a boy, I avoided work in favour of the joy of inspiration; as a scientist, I've at last started to fully appreciate the final published product.

Author information

Affiliations

Authors

Related links

Related links

Related links in Nature Research

Stars in the making

Postdoc Journal landing page

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Cite this article

Walcott, S. Inspiration and satisfaction. Nature 462, 683 (2009). https://doi.org/10.1038/nj7273-683b

Download citation

Comments

By submitting a comment you agree to abide by our Terms and Community Guidelines. If you find something abusive or that does not comply with our terms or guidelines please flag it as inappropriate.