Mailbag was my favorite part of your site. Why did you stop writing it?

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4 replies
  1. Penelope Trunk
    Penelope Trunk says:

    A lot of people sent this question to me. Including my site manager who I was thinking doesn’t really read anything on my blog. So the fact that so many people noticed I stopped doing Mailbag was a surprise to me.

    I stopped doing it becuase I thought it was stupid. It may surprise you to hear that I live in terror of being boring on my site, and I work so hard on the blog posts, obsessively worrying with each one that I will be boring. But I do not worry so much with this Mailbag stuff.

    But then I started worrying that I was not worrying enough about Mailbag. Like, my worrying is what makes something intersting. And then I thought I should worry about it more, and then I thought if I spend as much time on Mailbag as I do on my blog posts then I will never sleep. So I stopped doing Mailbag.

    And that’s when I realized that Mailbag was going very well. I just didn’t know it was going well.

    So often, the best way to figure out where your career should be going is by listening to how other people talk about you. Enough people told me they really liked Mailbag that I knew I should be doing it. I’m not sure how, exactly, I should be doing it. But I have to keep trying.

    So I’m back. And this is a great example of how I have steered my career the whole time — I look at what I can do the people want me to do, and I do that. If I only did what I think I’m great at, I think I’d be writing novels. Still. And they would suck. Still. Becuase I’m not good at them even though I wish I were.

    I never grew up wishing I could write a Q&A section about careers. But look, that’s what I seem to be good at. The best way to be successful in your career is to do what people care about instead of what you wish people cared about.

    So welcome back to Mailbag.


  2. Deborah Hymes
    Deborah Hymes says:

    Woo hoo! Penelope’s Mailbag is back! Happy, happy news. =)

    It’s a weird thing, but true I think, that when something feels easy we tend to assume that it’s not valuable. I don’t understand what you mean when you say that you’re not sure HOW you should be doing mailbag. What’s wrong with just picking the letters that resonate with you and posting roughly once a week? That seems to work for you, for your site and for your readers. Why would it need to be anything other than that?

  3. Rachel
    Rachel says:

    I love all your advice, and never really know when I’m going to use it. The other day I was asked an awkward question by someone close to me, and unfortunately, it was with an audience, so I immediately got tripped up in my head. I usually foul all these awkward questions. But for some reason, my mind fluttered to your blog, and a specific post, and a specific line, and I found myself quoting it. Not only was it the perfect thing to say, but it alleviated any anxiety I felt. So thanks. I can’t tell you how much of a difference you’ve made in my life <3

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