"Who are you without the doing?" đź‘€

Hiya.

I've wanted to launch this newsletter for three years now, so what you're reading is the product of a long, internal fight with my psyche. Between jobs and moves and Big Life Things, I've alternately battled with the voices telling me a) I'm not good enough and b) I have zero ideas that people will care about. Thank god for therapy, and art, and books, and ignoring those voices, and thank you for deciding to follow me here. I hope I can interest you to stay awhile.

First things first: I'm an award-winning editor and writer looking for the next big thing. I was recently laid off, which sucks—no sense in sugar-coating it. I was a little surprised, though, that I wasn't as emotionally affected as I would have expected. Having witnessed lay-offs in newsrooms and publications before, I guess I expected I'd be more dejected or thrown off balance than I actually was. Instead, after getting off the phone with my former editors, I updated my resume and sent it off to about a dozen people. An hour after I was officially jobless, I got a call from a recruiter at a major magazine group, and had an interview the next day. (I'm still waiting to hear back on a few fronts for staff job.) Sure, my world feels a little unsure at the moment, but if I know anything it's this: I'll be okay.


So back to this newsletter. I've spent the last few weeks regrouping and cocooning, steeped in tea and writing long, reflective journal entries to give shape to gushy, blobby thoughts and ideas. I've taken long walks. I've traveled. I've read a few books, listened to too many podcasts. I've been a working journalist for 10+ years, working in newspapers, magazines, and digital mediums--now that I'm not anchored by a staff position at a publication, I have to redefine discipline, story creation, and craft under my own terms. What a wild feeling! I am relearning what makes me tick—as author and podcaster Jocelyn K. Glei asks on her program, Hurry Slowly, who am I without the doing?

It's a big question, and I don't have the slightest idea on how to answer it. For all of my professional skills and knowledge, I haven't allowed myself to play or imagine other outcomes for myself. What if I didn't go back to work right away? Who would I be without the titles of "journalist" or "editor"? As a person deeply motivated by external validation, I feel shackled to the reward system of bylines and social media likes. I'm confused about how to map out my next steps when I don't even know if I'm standing in a forest or a desert.

The thing is... I'm excited by this unknown. As I continue to write and ponder, I can't shake an incessant need to be creative, out loud and in the open. So much of a public persona or (UGH) personal brand is created behind the scenes, such that what the audience sees is the polished product, but not how the artist got there. I'm not so interested in the polished anymore. In this space, I want to explore craft and process, while sharing my own behind-the-scenes for the writing process--how to unplug, where to find inspiration, that sort of thing. I'm inspired by writers and makers like the aforementioned Jocelyn K. Glei, journalist Ann Friedman, and writer/illustrator Austin Kleon, and hope to bring to your attention stories about art, culture, food, history etc. that speak to me. I want to also keep you abreast of projects I'm working on, in case there's a fit. Have interesting stories or ideas you think would pique my interest? Want to work together? Drop me a line! jhernandez312@gmail.com.

Thank you, I love you.
~Joseph

10 Links I Love:
[1] I have a new website. Let's start there.
[2] God grant me the energy and confidence of this goose.
[3] I've been listening to the Ten Percent Happier podcast a lot lately, even before the layoff. I've been trying to connect with myself via meditation (to middling results) but I do find myself more aware of my energy, thoughts, and reactions to things. Deeper in the archive, there's an episode with Manoush Zomorodi, a journalist and entrepreneur who has explored the benefits of boredom, and the harm our multi-screen lives do to our sense of play and creativity. Her work is interesting, and I want to pick up her book.
[4] This Twitter thread about a 99-year-old woman named Rita Smith, a quilt she started, and an internet community that has rallied to complete her work in her honor moved me.
[5] Who is having fun?
[6] NPR's Life Kit podcast has been an excellent listen as I make coffee in the morning, or if I'm tidying up around the house. I've long had great relationships with non-men, but when it comes to creating meaningful connections with members of my identified gender, I have a hard time connecting. This episode on how men can create stronger friendships with people was a good one, with thoughts from Thomas Page McBee, an author whose work on toxic masculinity has been on my radar for a couple of years now, but I just haven't gotten around to reading. Gotta change that.
[7] The Atlantic recently published this story on creating equitable marriages, and there was some good, actionable insight on accountability and heading off resentment.
[8] Good news for me? How early-career setbacks can set you up for success: “This is not just survival of the fittest,” Dr. Wang said. “These people became better versions of themselves."
[9] The history of the hard shell taco, and why it's not as gringo-licious as you'd think.
[10] Not a drill: Stanley Tucci and Colin Firth are playing a longtime couple in a new film called Supernova, which promises to be all of the sads. But also: Daddy goals!

What I'm Working On:
Currently, I'm still strongly entrenched in the food, wine, and travel space, with a few freelance projects for some publications in the works. If you have tips on chefs, recipes, events, openings/closings, or new sources, do reach out. I'm particularly interested in people at the intersection of food/drinks, community, sustainability, wellness/mental health, and equitable economies, but in the meantime, I'm also interested in new chefs/rising stars and new menus, whether for bars or restaurants. I'm also open to coffee dates and the like (NYC for now, though that may change with some upcoming travel). (Talk to me about Columbus, Ohio!) Finally, I'd like to expand my coverage into art and culture, so if you want to talk books, big ideas about creativity, the future of things, or just wanna drop some knowledge on me, do let me know. Thank you!