I’ve been reaching out to people I admire to share their why bother stories – the times in their lives they felt stuck or lost or despairing – big or and small – and what turned things around.
Today’s story is from the amazing Karen Rinaldi
Can you tell me about a time in your life when you felt discouraged or defeated and wondered, “Ugh, why bother? What’s the point?”
There was a time in my career in publishing when I felt defeated. I worked 24/7, made no money at all and the path forward seemed more of the same. Worse, it seemed you could fall in love with books that you worked on for a long time but those efforts seemed to make no difference on whether they would succeed or not. I quit publishing, left New York, and fled to Los Angeles.
What brought you out of it, tipped you into bothering again?
Leaving book publishing and New York was a great way to get enough distance on both to miss them enormously. After three years of freelance work in LA, and then back in NYC to work in the magazine world, I realized I missed the commitment that comes with being a book editor. The very thing that frustrated me became the aspect of it that I valued most. Writing, editing, and publishing books entails long commitments.
Freelance work and magazine editing were like furtive affairs–exciting and sexy but fleeting and ultimately–for me–empty. Book publishing is like a long marriage–each book takes years of work, there are ups and downs along the way, relationships are tested. But, ultimately, beautiful stuff comes out of that stick-to-it-ness. Once I came back to books, I never left again. It’s been a 32-year career and still going strong.
What’s something you feel bothered about right now, in a positive way? What makes you excited to get out of bed?
When I was writing my book, It’s Great to Suck at Something–which is an exploration about how I find transcendent joy from the activity for which a show the least talent (surfing)–I found that every path I followed led me to aspects of the Divine. Whether I was looking to science, history, philosophy, or poetry, ultimately, I would bump into God. As a lapsed Catholic and agnostic, I was not expecting that to happen. It threw me. But I paid attention and have since followed a path which has brought me into some very interesting places–both in my reading and my experiences. Instead of persisting in my skepticism, I opened up to other possibilities. I feel like the world is wide open–despite evidence, politically speaking, that seems to indicate otherwise.
You can connect with Karen here: