Friday, April 16, 2010

The End is the Beginning--A Good Paradox

I was driving to the gym this morning and listening to a radio show on which the radio personalities, in my opinion, talk too much and every cast member likes listening to her or his own vapid voice yakking on about typically insipid things such as the best nail polish or whether or not accepting drinks from strange guys at a bar means you "owe" them.

(I should name the show, but since I just kind of dissed it, I don't know if that's smart.)

Anyway, today, this radio gang had a guest: Kelly Cutrone --of, I believe, the reality show, "Kell on Earth,"--who has written a book about how to launch your career, make it in business/work and find your passion. It's entitled, If You Have to Cry, Go Outside.

Good title. Apparently the book is selling very well, but I have not read it and I probably won't because I am nearly 40 and I don't think I need work advice at this point. Oh, hell, maybe I do...

Kelly Cutrone was taking calls and I was sort of floored by the people who were calling: several young women, all recent college grads. All English majors. All hoping to be writers--communications, PR, screenwriting, etc.

What is up with that? On the one hand, I always get psyched when a student tells she plans to major in English. On the other--yikes; why aren't these girls employed in paid and/or meaningful-to-their-intended-future-career positions (they worked as unpaid interns, nannies, etc.)?

I don't think it was their choice of major. Rather, I think maybe it's that breaking into writing is really, really hard.

I remember graduating from Sarah Lawrence and hoping to jump right into it.

No one will give you a chance.

There are years of dues paying in front of these ladies. Years.

You just have to accept that, and be willing to start wherever you can.

Do the best job you can at whatever job you can get. Prove yourself; be a good, helpful person; never stop learning or growing. Eventually, someday, someone will notice and give you a chance.

Sure, there are some wunderkinds who get writing jobs early on. They might start off interning for a magazine and then, a few years later, get promoted to staff writer, get a column. But let's be honest: there may be two of them in the entire nation.

Everyone thinks s/he can write; that's just a fact. Every job, practically, requires "excellent writing skills."

I don't see that many great writers, though (I mean, in regular lines of work). When I do, I know it's something special.

Writing is a glamour job, however. It is more fun than most other things (though it's also very hard. It can be tedious and lonely, for sure). Everyone seems to want to do it--and so, the pay is usually not great.

In writing, I think the general public is dazzled by the few shining examples of Success. But most writers  just sort of barely make it. Those who hang in there and persist, who build up a body of work, who try to get better all the time, who don't abandon their art...maybe someday they'll be secure.

There are no guarantees, however. And what's worst about writing is that talent doesn't necessarily mean that you'll make it. I could go on about this now and cite examples from my years in book publishing, but I won't.

I need to explain the title of this blog post. "The End is the Beginning." What does that mean?

For me (and for what I was thinking about fifteen minutes ago when I started typing this), I think it applies to getting out of school and wondering what you'll do next. There, indeed, "the end is the beginnning."

Yet, this paradoxical idea of intertwined beginnings and ends can apply to nearly everything, I think. We can't move on to the next big thing until we let go of what is familiar and safe and take a risk.

Every day has the potential for a new beginning. Every minute, in fact.

I don't mean to sound all life-coachy (life coaches generally annoy me; they are, to my mind, akin to the bots that spew inspirational quotes 24/7 on Twitter).

What I started thinking about this morning was how change is scary but also inspirational. As Kelly Cutrone was saying on that radio show, we have to let go of what we think we should do, and maybe what our parents told us we should do, and pursue our own dreams. Aggressively.

So, make your mark. Don't be afraid to speak up and get noticed. Because, indeed, The End is also (always!) the Beginning.


  1. You're doing great, sweetie!

  2. Well, thanks much for that. Always appreciated.