Starting over: a prodigal speechwriter’s long journey back

Cynthia Starks wrote speeches at IBM in the 80s and early 90s, then chucked that to go freelance, which she did for a dozen years.

“In 2005, I made the decision to stop taking assignments. In 2006, my family moved from Connecticut, where I was born and raised and had all my speechwriting contacts and work, to Indiana, where I had virtually none. In 2007, thinking the speechwriting ‘bug’ was out of my system, I took a part-time job as copy editor and columnist for a small weekly newspaper here.”

Sounds cozy.

“But in early 2009, my husband, Michael, was laid off by IBM after a 25-year career there. And suddenly, everything changed.”

Forced to restart her speechwriting business after four years and without a network, “Truth to tell, I was terrified.”

What did she do? She shares her journey “from fear to focus” in two parts, one focusing on networking and the other focusing on marketing itself.

Lots of good ideas here, but Starks hasn’t seen the promised land yet. “I still feel like Mary Tyler Moore, brand new in the Twin Cities, throwing her beret in the air to the strains of ‘you’re gonna make it after all.’ More hard work is ahead, for sure, but Mary made it … and so will I.

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