Ryan Pendell – Silicon Prairie News EntreFEST Snapshot

ryan-1Before you came to Silicon Prairie News, you spent time as a professor, a freelance writer, and even started down the path of life in a monastery. Describe to me how some of those shifts happened.

“When I left college, everyone told me, ‘Do what you love. Do what you’re passionate about.’ And, ‘Don’t worry about the money or anything else like that. Just, if you do what you love the world will embrace you.’ When I got out of grad school it was right at the peak of the economic meltdown, and Chicago was one of the worst places to be. And beyond that, I also found out that Creative Writing in higher education is completely glutted with MFAs. There are tons of writers. And so, there was a point at which for even an entry-level position, there was massive competition, like hundreds of applicants from all over the country.”

“I kind of pieced together adjunct positions from various places, but it was basic composition type stuff. I spent most of my time trying to convince students that writing was something worth giving their attention to. I decided I didn’t want to do that for the rest of my life.”

“The monastery thing was just an attempt to say, Okay, if I’m not going to do what I always dreamed of doing, being a professor, what are my values? Like, what’s my deepest sense of myself and what I believe in, and what if I just did all that? What if I just went all out? And within my monastery experience, over time I had a deep, profound sense that I could go anywhere and do anything and everything was going to be okay. Just this really deep sense that everything’s going to be okay. And I think that, in terms of trying to search for a career, or meaning, what am I supposed to do with my life, that was kind of the culmination of that. So, once I let go of trying to figure out what I was supposed to do with my life was kind of when I figured it out.”

“And after leaving the monastery, I thought, I know I want to write. I’m going to find a way to make money with writing by whatever means possible. And so, that’s been a really hard slog, but I have a very clear sense now that the purpose of my life is to create beautiful things that inspire people.”

“That’s what was behind all the freelance jobs I did, all of that work I did, what got me through all those jobs I hated. And that’s what I get to do now with my job at SPN. And it’s a blast to do what I do, telling profiles of companies, of entrepreneurs. Whatever I’m working on, that’s what drives me now is making beautiful things that inspire people. And it is a great feeling to write things that you feel passionate about and to have people respond.”