The Plan Going Forward

In Notes on May 6, 2015 at 11:02 pm

A note from Work Stew editor Kate Gace Walton:

“The plan going forward” is of course a silly phrase. (After all, you can’t make a plan going backward; you can’t plan the past. If you could, I’m sure we’d all have done a whole lot better.) But I digress.

What I want to discuss here is the plan for Work Stew. As many of you know, this site sprung from a mid-life crisis of sorts: back in 2011, I knew I needed a career change, but I had—in the form of an essay I’d written one night—only the fuzziest notions of what to seek (“flow?”).

However, simply by putting that essay out into the world, good things started to happen: the discipline of having to pin my swirling thoughts into sentences, and the small but robust community that developed as others chose to do the same, helped guide me towards a better fit.

But even as I settled happily into a new career, I realized: with a subject as complicated as work, the stewing never stops. It just evolves. Both at a personal level and at a societal level, there are always difficult questions to ponder, thorny issues to tackle.

So, I pressed on with Work Stew: posting work-related stories on Facebook and Twitter, editing essays at night, producing podcasts on weekends. And I loved it—all of it. For the first time in 20 years, I felt again what I was lucky enough to experience in college: a community of kindred spirits, drawing on a diverse set of backgrounds and experiences, to discuss ideas…and to help each other find our way. Truly, it has been both comforting and exhilarating—which is a weird but wonderful combination.

Lately, though, the stirring of the Stew has been increasingly tough to pull off. There just aren’t enough hours in the day, and (TMI alert) I’m really, really tired. So for some time now, I’ve stopped soliciting new essays to publish and, a few months back, I put the podcast on pause. However, I can’t bear to stop Work Stew all together: I’m too attached to the daily ritual not just of working but of thinking about work. I’m also too attached to all of you. So here’s my plan:

  • The posts and chats (on Facebook and Twitter) will continue. These aren’t terribly time-consuming for me, and I figure social media breaks are a better idea than, say, smoking breaks. Especially for a non-smoker.
  • I will continue to hold off on the podcast for now. If I run across someone I feel compelled to interview, I may record a new episode, but going forward I won’t be adhering to a regular (every two weeks) distribution schedule.
  • I will gladly accept essays if anyone feels moved to write one and to send it to me, but I won’t be actively soliciting them.
  • What I will be doing—to encourage a steady stream of original writing about work—is hosting four writing contests per year. Each contest will have a work-related prompt, a word limit (600 words), and a prize ($200 for the winner). After each round, I will publish the winner’s entry and possibly a few other finalists. So that you can plan ahead (humor me, people!), here are the dates for the next four rounds:
Prompt announced: April 15, 2015
Deadline: May 15, 2015
Prompt announced: July 15, 2015
Deadline: August 15, 2015
Prompt announced: October 15, 2015
Deadline: November 15, 2015
Prompt announced: January 15, 2016
Deadline: February 15, 2016
Work Stew Essay Contest copy

I hope this approach appeals to at least some of you. Let me know: And if any of you have other ideas—suggestions on how the Stew might evolve over time without requiring me to pull all-nighters—please throw those thoughts into the mix as well. As always, thank you for reading, and thank you for chiming in.


  1. Kate, So well written. I have found the work you have done, provided, cultured and brought to our attention to be thoughtful, inspiring and funny :).

    Thank you and whatever YOU decide to do to make sure you are cared for – in life, love, family and work – I’m happy to read!


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