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On Ending One Career and Starting Another

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When I found myself unexpectedly without a job in September 2022, I did what I always do: I updated my resume, upgraded my LinkedIn membership, and threw myself headfirst into the job search. And found myself in the deep end of…a cesspool. Dozens of conversations and interviews later the message from the world of work was clear message: We don’t want you. You’re too old. After months of unemployment and uncertainty and increasing self-doubt, after decades spent climbing ladders and chasing coin, I decided to close the book on my career in communications and follow my heart and chase the long-held dream I’d pushed aside for too long. I was going to focus on writing. This wasn’t a decision I made lightly or without careful consideration—I am a Libra after all. There were conversations with my husband and meetings with our financial advisor. I sat with myself and searched within to find what I really wanted. For me the decision was a leap of faith, like falling in love, like marriage.

Black History Month: Who Inspires Me Part Two

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  As #BlackHistoryMonth draws to a close, I want to share Part 2 of who inspires me. Like my mother you won’t recognize his name, you won’t find his name in history books, but his name is forever engraved on my heart. He was my dad, Ray O. Benjamin. A Korean War veteran, carpenter, husband, father, he taught me it takes more strength to hold your tongue than to loose it. I never heard him curse or even raise his voice. He taught me that family comes first. Always. That being part of a family sometimes requires sacrifice that doesn’t feel like sacrifice. I remember the great Black Out of 1965. We were little kids. Mom was home alone with us. Dad was on the subway on his way home from work. Once he was off the train he proceeded to walk home by the light of the moon and matches. He walked from Brooklyn to the Bronx. Once he got home, he climbed twenty-one flights of stairs in the dark to reach us. Opening the door, moonlight told him he climbed too far, was on the roof. When our Aunt,

Black History Month: Who Inspires You?

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  The other day, on LinkedIN I posted inviting folks to celebrate someone who inspires you this #BlackHistoryMonth. As I thought about who inspires me every day, it turned out to be someone whose name most people wouldn’t recognize, someone not in the history books. It is my mom, Kathleen A. Benjamin. Mom became a para-professional working in classrooms when our youngest brother at the time started first grade. When we were in Junior High, mom started going to college part time. She eventually went on to earn her Master’s in special education. During a teacher’s strike, she joined others in crossing the picket line and teaching her class, dad standing guard outside her door. She said black kids needed an education more than she needed a raise. As a teacher, she taught our peers and their children and in some cases their children’s children. As a parent, she taught us “By the sweat of thy brow, thou shall eat bread.” Back before Martin Luther King, Jr.’s birthday was a federal hol

Team Rayceen: Krylios interviews wordsmith & author Larry Benjamin

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Check out my interview with effervescent storyteller, playwright, performer, emcee/host, producer, writer & creator Krylios. We talk about my new book, the creative process, love and death. Hell, we talked about everything. Oh yeah, and Gatsby made an appearance.  WATCH .

How Do You Define Man?

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The other day my older brother, who if you follow us on Twitter, you will know as @SquarePegDem, messaged me. You’ll also be familiar with our sometimes-epic squabbles on the platform. His message read: “I’m curious, how do you define a man? You’re not a Supreme Court nominee, so you can answer me.” I set aside the snark (uncharacteristically for me) and thought for a few minutes. In my second novel, “ Unbroken ,” main character Lincoln, struggling to reconcile his own undeniable boyness with his gayness recalls: “I was wrong. Always wrong . ‘No’ was the word I heard most often. No, boys don’t do that. No, boys don’t do this. I was left believing boys only belched, farted, and fought.” Growing up, it seemed to me that being a boy required membership in some sort of exclusive club, which permitted only certain sanctioned behaviors, the esoteric equivalent, I imagined, of knowing to sip one’s tea with one’s pinky extended, or how to dribble a basketball. I found myself on the outsid

Let's Talk about Inclusion and ...Tiny Pretty Things

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So can we talk—about Tiny Pretty Things , now on Netflix, which I understand is based on the YA novel of the same name by Dhoniele Clayton and Sona Charaipotra about a group of ballet students at the fictional prestigious Archer School of Ballet? We’ve been watching Tiny Pretty Things and each episode reminds me more of the danger of the WOKE creating “inclusive” stories. I suppose the ambition is worthy, even if the execution is appalling. It seems as if the writers decided to achieve inclusion in this instance (and many others but I’m only focusing on TPT here) by creating a check list of diverse types. There, however, apparently can only be one of each type; this is, after all, is a show set in the rarified world of privilege: white upper middle class, skinny but toned students all of whom own evening clothes suitable for the opera and the girls all wear coordinated Victoria’s Secret under things. But I digress. The first challenge of allowing only one of each demographic is th

On Writing Part Two: (You’ve Got to be) Ruthless

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I remember when I first started writing seriously, I would come across all these articles where writers talked about “honing their craft.” That would immediately trigger an eyeroll and a metaphorical flipping of the page (after all most of these articles appeared online). Now seven years later as I begin work on my fifth novel, I’m rethinking that. I still dislike the term, sounding as it does as if one was practicing sorcery. Though, now I’ve come to realize that when we write, we create something out of nothing, which is kind of a neat conjurer’s trick; you (hopefully) pull gold from straw like a literary alchemist. And sometimes, too, being a writer can feel like you’re playing God playing house. You breathe life into your characters after all and give them companions and adventures. The story itself is the Universe you created for them. The characters are the bones of the story; the plot and the conflicts are the capillaries and veins and arteries. And the words are the skin. T