All changes have their melancholy

Emma Thompson and her Oscar for Howard's End

This week I wrote my 20th and last column for our magazine. After 10 years, we’ll print one last issue in November and then that’s it.

Mostly, I’m good with it. We produced something smart and worthwhile. We never sacrificed our ideals. As a group, we’re right to be proud. I think I, personally, did good work. I learned a lot about writing and editing, and myself. But we also never made money (like, not any) and to sustain that kind of workload on top of a paying full time job became impossible. In the last weeks, as we worked towards our final editorial deadline (today) I often felt I’d be very glad when everything was done. I can’t remember an evening or weekend where, even if I wasn’t mid-task, I wasn’t preoccupied with work that was falling behind or coming up. I’m ready for a break.

I’m also terrified. As I submitted the final draft of my final column, I couldn’t help thinking, “What if this is the last thing I ever publish?” The magazine has given me a lot. It forced me to keep writing, no matter how I felt. And in the early years, I was awful about deadlines; my work was extremely rough. If it’d been a paying job I’m fairly sure I’d have been sacked. Without that accepting environment, where I could slack off or make mistakes, I wonder if I’d have cut and run. I’m a good writer, but I’m self-conscious and prone to procrastination. I’m a good editor, but I have no technical qualifications. Even now, after a decade of being called a “managing editor” it’s very possible no other publication will hire me. (Hey, wait–do publications even hire people these days? Heh.)

And, you know, being that Person with a Creative Pursuit became a big part of my identity. When the rest of my life felt unbearably average and pointless, it was something that reassured me I wasn’t just some crap secretary. (May all the secretaries forgive my even articulating this thought. Believe me, I know it’s a flawed and pretentious one.) Now I’ll have build something new and I’m not at all confident I’m up to the challenge.

I guess this is the year I shed my skin. It’s probably good, but it’s not comfortable.


All changes, even the most longed for, have their melancholy,
for what we leave behind us is a part of ourselves;
we must die to one life before we can enter another.

— Anatole France


4 thoughts on “All changes have their melancholy

  1. I’m sorry your magazine is ending. I know that secretaries rule the world. My job would be a living hell if it weren’t for the secretaries I work with. It’s sad that the world in general doesn’t give due worth to the tasks (many seemingly impossible) they accomplish in a day. I’m rooting for you and cheering you on as you go forward into your next creative adventure.

  2. You and your group did something amazing – created and sustained a quality magazine for love, not money. I don’t know how hard the decision was to end the project for all of you, but it sounds like a wise one given the work load involved. All my best to you, and enjoy having less pressure on your time!

  3. Of course you will be published again—you are an elegant writer and have a brain stuffed with ideas, opinions and knowledge! One day after the one-year anniversary of this post I’m writing to ask: how are you? where are you? I tried your email but was daemonized. Reach me at my yahoo mail or my blog… Hope you’re good…

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