On Carving Your Niche

There is a men’s magazine called Beef! available at all good news stalls in Berlin.

“Beef” is not a euphemism for female flesh or motor sports: this publication is entirely devoted to men looking for the latest tips in cooking, marinating and serving cow. It advertises itself as “the magazine for men with taste.”

A couple of months ago, while I was weathering my quarter-life crisis I read some encouraging advice from a journalist whose name I promptly forgot. He said: stop trying to please, do what you love to do. And wait for others to come to you.

In a journalistic context, this goes against conventional wisdom. If you are a nobody, like Katekatharina, you should devour the publications you’re interested in writing for, you should find out what they like, you should obsessively pitch to try to meet their wants.

Pitching articles for publications who already have a surplus of highly talented writers can be soul-destroying.

The best antidote I have found to this kind of trauma is to start a blog.

A couple of months ago, I wrote a blog post about education. I argued that evaluation was a much less important feature of the system than we acknowledge. And that constantly aligning ourselves to a standard which we had no part in setting can confine our creative thinking.

If you are suitably self-critical, your own standards might be those that best help you to improve.

At Katekatharina, I write for an editor who is her own worst enemy. But she has little moments, where she’s proud of the little home she’s created on the outskirts of the inter-web.

Recently, I’ve had some small successes in getting work which originated at Katekatharina published.

If there is space in the market for a male magazine just about beef, then maybe we all have little spaces to discover where we can thrive. It’s just a matter of “carving” the right one.