By Cassandra Talbot
It’s so good to write. You won’t see me take my hair down during the day, and you sure as hell won’t see my makeup come off, but at the end of the day, when I get home and take off the heels and change into sweatpants, it’s good to write.
Really, that’s why I’m in this transition of sorts. I graduated from two prestigious New England universities that will remain unnamed with a bachelor’s degree and a master’s degree in journalism. When they took off the training wheels, I couldn’t have pedaled faster and gotten to my destination in more of a hurry. After a series of short-lived intervals that were separated by promotions, I became an editor for an also unnamed national women’s magazine. I kept pushing. Pedaling harder and harder, faster and faster, making things better, more efficient, climbing the corporate ladder, spending less money and making more of it, finding the supply and meeting the demand; and then one day I woke up and found myself a businesswoman. That’s fine, I guess, but I went to college because I wanted to be a writer. And just like that, my four-year-old nephew’s comment on the Indy 500 became profound – “Hey, Dad … where are they goin’?” I was racing furiously around the track, but I’d lost my direction long ago.This is my first week working for Stuart Lem at the Lem Institute. Mr. Lem and I go way back. He was a professor of mine when I was working on my master’s degree, and then he moved on to own everything in the world, including the magazine that I eventually took over. While I was managing editor there, he dropped by for the occasional “making-sure-you’re-not-botching-everything” checkup and cup of coffee. It was the last said checkup and coffee that preceded my morning racetrack epiphany, and let’s just say I was not up to par. Mr. Lem recognized it immediately and promptly suggested a career change – work with struggling writers at his institute. And by “struggling” we mean not only poor and unpublished; we mean unmotivated, attitude-laden, and/or even misdirected (like me!) after years of blind and furious driving around the racetrack. I put in my two weeks, hired and trained my replacement, and today I began scouring the Institute for such struggling writers. Oh, and I get to have an assistant. I’m used to this, but I wasn’t expecting it with this particular job. Tomorrow, I’m interviewing a young girl who’s just graduated college. God bless her.
Today has been mostly dedicated to organization. Stuart gave me the names of two people who might be interested in the project, whom I contacted, and he also suggested that I find a place for us to meet. That endeavor has not yet been enormously successful, unless, of course, we met in someone’s dorm room. Not ideal. Not ideal at all. Especially for those of us who haven’t lived in one, or even been in one, for ten years or more. You couldn’t pay me to go in there again. Oh, and especially since I don’t have anyone interested yet who actually lives in the dorm. But anyway, I have two people who have responded. I have an older man, whom one might delicately describe as eccentric, named Dr. Something-or-Other. It starts with an X, and that’s about all I can tell you. Between the thirteen and a half letters that comprise his last name and the accent through which he pronounces it, there’s just no chance that I’m going to try to spell it. It’s just embarrassing for a woman with two journalism degrees and a much-drooled-upon resume to spell something incorrectly in print.
I also had a young lady, Katrina, respond. She seems like an interesting person. Very mysterious, and kind of distracted. But from what I’ve seen, she’s talented. It makes me excited about writing again. And it makes me excited, not because it generates financial success, but because it’s what we’re all made to do, and in a weird way, we have a certain kind of bond. In a weird way.
A very, very weird way.