I stew about work—but I also do work. And for my job, I spent the bulk of last week in Las Vegas at an industry conference. There were some low points, like the awards ceremony where the Chariots of Fire theme music was played as the top-ranked managers took to the stage.
In my view, the Chariots of Fire theme music should only be played if it’s 1924 and a group of strapping young men in white athletic gear are actually running along a beach.
But for the most part, the conference was useful: I met a bunch of people. I learned a lot. And I loved one speaker in particular: an industry lawyer who abandoned a conventional PowerPoint in favor of his guitar and a short song, jam-packed with sound legal advice, that he sang very well.
In moments like that, given the opportunity to glimpse the person behind the title, I am reminded that none of us are our jobs—that as all-consuming as any one role can feel, we are each, always and without escape, merely our idiosyncratic selves, a unique bundle of talents and hang-ups trying to find our place in the world, trying to answer the question that the poet Mary Oliver put this way:
“Tell me, what is it you plan to do
with your one wild and precious life?” *
That search, that process, is something that we all have in common, and I love that some of us are starting to talk about it here.
Which brings me back to stewing. Here’s what’s in the works…
A Writing Contest—with a CASH prize!
Thanks to some generous donors, plans are coming together for the first-ever Work Stew essay contest, one with an actual cash prize, not the usual Imaginary Prize of Staggering Value.
Logistics and legalities are still being sorted out, but a possible prompt/theme, suggested by Work Stew reader Navin Madras in homage to NPR’s wonderful ‘This I Believe’ series, is ‘This I Do.’
If you have any suggestions of your own, please let me know at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Also, if you want to be sure to get a notification when the contest kicks off, please enter your email address where it says ‘Email Subscription’ below.
Terri Rowe, a longtime factory worker who wrote for Work Stew about her “secret identity” as a writer, is no longer under wraps—she’s now a published author.
Her first children’s book Green Goo was recently published by MeeGenius after her manuscript became a readers’ favorite in an online contest.
After learning that her story had been selected for publication, Terri sent this note to Work Stew: “Thank you for giving me the chance to share my thoughts and dreams, which helped me to change my reality!”
Kind words, Terri—thank you and, again: congratulations!